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But to this prayer the angel Gabriel seems to reply, by saying, " Seventy weeks are determined upon thy people and upon thy holy city, to finish the transgression, and to make an end of sins, and to make reconciliation for iniquity, and to bring in everlasting righteousness, and to seal up the vision and prophecy, and to anoint the Most Holy."—Dan. ix. 24. Which informs, in the most emphatic manner, that the Messiah would not come sooner than seventy weeks, or four hundred and ninety years, reckoning each week to be seven years, which was the fact.
Relative to this verse, Dr. Clark states that the seventy weeks here mentioned amount to four hundred and ninety years, and are divided into three distinct periods.
First period embraces from the going forth of the commandment to rebuild Jerusalem, which commandment was issued by Artaxerxes Lnngimanus, and given to Ezra, the prophet, and comprehends seven weeks, or forty-nine years, till Jerusalem was repaired, her sacred constitutions and civil establishments again brought into effect by Ezra and Nehemiah.
Second period consists of sixty-two weeks, or four hundred and thirty-four years, and extends from the above mentioned repairs of Jerusalem, till the commencement of the preaching of John the Baptist, which was probably several years before Christ entered on his public ministry."
Third period embraces one week, or seven years, and comprehends all that time in which the Messiah was to confirm the covenant with many, and extends
from the commencement of John the Baptist's preaching till the out-pouring of the holy Ghost on the day of Pentecost, which three periods will make seventy weeks, or 490 years. *
The propriety of adapting the last week, or seven years, to John the Baptist's preaching, appears from the words of Christ, who says, "The Law was until John: with John's ministry and his own, tilt Pentecost, the new and better covenant was confirmed, which is the last of the seventy weeks, and was fulfilled to the letter. . And that these years were nearly accomplished was undoubtedly known to those Eastern Magi, or wise men, and the place foretold by the prophets of his birth was a subject to which they were no strangers, else why should they seek him at Jerusalem.
And while they were in the way to that City, a meteor or star appeared in the air, not very high'from the earth. The appearance of this star, was to those wise met: a very joyful coincidence, for it is likely they might then recollect that it was said by Balaam, "1 shall see him but not now, 1 shall behold him but not nigh; there shall come a star out of Jacob, and a sceptre shall arise out of Israel."—Num. xxiv. 17. This star, therefore, might be thought a symbol of the true star thajt was to arise out of Jacob. As soon, therefore, as they had come to the city, they inquired fur Him who was born king of the Jews, and added, fir we have seen his star. Although they were certain that this was the country where he must be born, yet the particular place was to them an object of inquiry; but of this they could not be informed; for when Herod, at their instigation, had assembled the Sanhedrin to inquire for himself, where this king should be born, they could only tell him, in Bethlehem of Judea, for thus it is written by the prophet: "And thou, Bethlehem, in the land of Judea, art not the least among the princes; for out of thee shall come a Governor that shall rule my people Israel."—Math. ii. 6 Herod, therefore, as soon as he had finished the inquiry, dismissed the Sanhedrin, and privately said to these wise men, "As soon as ye find the young child bring me word that I may worship him."
These wise men having obtained information where that section of the country called Bethlehem was situated, went from the presence of Herod, to seek in that place the particular dwelling of his parents, or house, of his abode, which was about six miles from Jerusalem.' And while, musing and conversing upon the prophecies and signs of his birth, saw suddenly and not very high from the earth, the same meteoric star, which they had seen in the way when coming to Jerusalem. At which sight they greatly rejoiced, and followed its course until it came and stood over the place and humble dwelling of God manifest in the flesh. There is scarcely a doubt but this bright luminous meteor, after standing over the place where the child lay, came and encompassed the head of the infant; else how should these wise men know certainly that this was the very child, the subject of prophesy, and was born a king, to whom they presented gifts. The fact that the Saviour was always represented with a glory
'about his head by the ancient painters, is a corroborative proof that the meteor dirl rest upon his brow at that time.
But the wise men, after they bad bestowed their gifts, and bowed and worshipped their Maker in the person of (his child, returned to their country another way, which is supposed to be in the kingdom or country of the Sabeans or Saba, and also Arabia Felix, who are supposed to be the descendants of Abraham, by his v#fe Ketnrah, who received their portion of their father, and departed for a country lying east from Abraham. See Gen. xxv. 6. "But unto the sons of the concubines which Abraham had, Abraham gave gifts, and sent them away from Isaac his son, while he yet lived eastward in the east country."
Perhaps in this place, though it bo a digression from our subject, it would liot be unacceptable to the curious, if I give an account of Herod the great, whose son beheaded John the Baptist.
Herod the great, the son of Antipater, reigned thirty seven years in Judea, reckoning from the time he was created king of that country by the Romans, Oar blessed Lord was born in the last year of his reign, and at this time the sceptre had literally departed from Judea, a foreigner being now on the throne. As there are several princes of this name mentioned in the New Testament, it may be well to give a list of them here, together with their genealogy
Herod the great, married ten wives, by whom he had several children. The first was Doris, thought to be an Idumean, whom he married when but a private in
dividual. By her, he had Antipater, the eldest of all his sons, whom he caused to be executed five days before his own death. Another of his sons was slain when the infants at Bethlehem were destroyed, which caused a certain writer of the day to say, " It is better to be Herod's hog than his son." The point in this saying, consists in this: that Herod, professing Judaism for his religion, forbade his killing swine, or having any thing to do with their flesh; therefore, his hog would have been safe where his son lost hre hfe.
His second wife was Mariamnc, daughter of Hircanus, the sole surviving person of the Asmonean, or Maccabean race. Herod put her to death. She was the mother of Alexander and Aristobulous, whom Herod had executed at Selastia, on accusation of having entered into a conspiracy against him. Aristobulous left three children, whom I shall notice hereafter.
His third wife was Mariamne, the daughter of Simon, a person of some note in Jerusalem, whom Herod made high priest, in order to obtain his daughter. She was the mother of Herod Philippus, or Herod Philip, and Salome. Herod, or Philip, married Hercdius, mother to Salome, the famous dancer, who demanded the head of John the Baptist.—Mark vi. 22. Salome had been placed, in the will of Herod the great, as second heir after Antipater; but her name was erased, when it was discovered that Mariamne, her mother, was an accomplice in the crimes of Antipater, son of Herod the great.
His fourth wife was Malthake, a Samaritan, whose sons were Archelaus and Philip. The first enjoyed