« 上一页继续 »
so many ages, but which they had as universally neglected and despised, was commissioned to point out to them the former loving kindnesses of Jehovah; and that the distinguishing privileges which they had enjoyed were not owing to themselves, or to their own character, or even to their descent from Abraham.* After charging the people with offering up mutilated or blemished sacrifices, and contemning the sabbaths and ordinances of God, f he reproached the priests especially, for the example they had set in breaking their covenant, in marrying strange wives; and threatened them with destruction and punishment. #
Then shewing them their insincerity and hyprocrisy towards each other in their general transactions, and their nuptial infidelity and illegal divorces, he declared that they had wearied Jehovah with their practices and their proud reasonings.
God, however, who seeth not as man seeth, discerned that there was still a small remnant left, disposed to seek and to serve him. Nothwithstanding, therefore, the general melancholy picture, this prophecy contains an affectionate remonstrance to this remnant, an impressive submission on their part, and a most gracious promise in consequence. “Even from the days of your fathers, ye are gone away from mine ordinances, and have not kept them. Return unto me, and I will return unto you, saith Jehovah of Hosts. But ye said, Wherein shall
* Mal. i. 5. + Mal. i. 6-14. | Mal. ii. 1-9. § And may not persons professing the religion of Jesus Christ, even in our own country, well tremble, lest they too should be found in this condemnation? Alas! alas! for the nobles and great ones of our land, and the example they set to those below them.
|| Mal. ij. 17. iji. 13—15. Would not one think the prophet was describing the state of society in Britain at the present day? How closely does one nation and people follow after another, in the concerns of life, to their common and final doom !
we return? Will a man rob God? Yet ye have robbed me. But ye say, Wherein have we robbed thee? In tithes and offerings. Ye are cursed with a curse : for ye have robbed me, even this whole nation. Bring ye all the tithes into the storehouse, that there may be meat in mine house, and prove me now herewith, saith Jehovah of Hosts, if I will not open you the windows of heaven, and pour you out a blessing, that there shall not be room enough to receive it. And I will rebuke the devourer for your sakes, and he shall not destroy the fruits of your ground; neither shall your vine cast her fruit before the time in the field, saith Jehovah of Hosts. And all nations shall call you blessed; for ye shall be a delightsome land, saith Jehova of Hosts. Your words bave been stout against me, saith Jehovah. Yet ye say, What have we spoken so much against thee?
“For, behold, the day cometh that shall burn as an oven ; and all the proud, yea, and all that do wickedly, shall be stubble: and the day that cometh shall burn them up, saith Jehovah of Hosts, that it shall leave them neither root nor branch. But unto you that fear my name shall the Sun of Righteousness arise with healing in his wings: and ye shall go forth, and grow up as calves of the stall. And shall tread down the wicked; for they shall be ashes under the soles of your feet, in the day that I shall do this, saith Jehovah of Hosts."*
As an appropriate conclusion to the last prophecy that was to be delivered, and that the intervening ages might not be destitute either of an encouraging promise or a warning monitor, this prophet then delivers the following splendid prediction of the Messiah Saviour: Behold, I will send my messenger, and he shall prepare the way before me: and Jehovah, whom ye seek, shall suddenly come to his temple,
* Mal. iji. 7-13. iv. 1-3.
even the messenger of the covenant, whom ye delight in: behold, he shall come, saith Jehovah of Hosts. But who may abide the day of his coming? And who shall stand when he appeareth ? for he is like a refiner's fire, and like fuller's soap; and he shall sit as a refiner and a purifier of silver; and he shall purify the sons of Levi, and purge them as gold and silver, that they may offer unto Jehovah an offering in righteousness. Then shall the offering of Judah and Jerusalem be pleasant unto Jehovah, as in the days of old, and as in former years. And I will come near to you to judgment; and I will be a swift witness against the sorcerers, and against the adulterers, and against false swearers, and against those that oppress the hireling in his wages, the widow, and the fatherless, and that turn aside the stranger from his right, and fear not me, saith Jehovah of Hosts. For I am Jehovah, I change not; therefore, ye sons of Jacob are not consumed. *
But that they might be left without excuse, and that an additional warning might be given them, the prophet adds, Remember ye the law of Moses, my servant, which I commanded unto him in Horeb for all Israel, with the statutes and judgments. Behold, I will send you Elijah, the prophet, before the coming of the great and dreadful day of Jehovah : and he shall turn the heart of the fathers to the children, and the heart of the children to their fathers, lest I come and smite the earth with a curse.†
With the transactions in which Ezra and Nehemiah were engaged ends the historical, and with Malachi the prophetical, canon of the Old Testament scriptures; for all the prophets, as we have seen, flourished during or previous to that period. We must now, therefore, forsake our unerring
Mal. iii. 1–6. See this prophecy explained and illustrated by Dr. Gill, on the Messiah, and W. Harris's Practical Sermons, 561-591.
+ Mal. iv. 4-6.
guide, and collect the intervening history of this interesting people from sources which, however correct, are destitute of that divine authority which is entitled to command belief.
Nehemiah is supposed to have held the government of Judea till his death, of which we have no account, and that after his decease, that country was added to the prefecture of Syria, under whom the successive high priests administered the affairs of the Jewish nation.*
Eliashib held that sacred office in the time of Nehemiah,t and on the death of Joiada, it devolved upon his son, Johanan, or Jonathan.
During this latter pontificate, the people incurred a severe punishment from the misconduct of Johanan ; for Jeshua, his brother, having insinuated himself into the favour of Bagoses, then prefect of Syria, obtained from him a grant of the high priesthood, with which Johanan had already been invested some years. On coming to Jerusalem, and attempting to assume the duties of the priesthood by force, Johanan opposed him with equal violence; and in the contest, Johanan slew his brother, in the inner court of the temple, thereby committing alike the crimes of murder and profanation.
When Bagoses was informed of this transaction, he came to Jerusalem, and was proceeding into the temple to take cognizance of the fact. Upon its being represented to him, that his entrance therein as a gentile would be esteemed a profanation, he exclaimed, What! am I not more pure than
. Prid. i. 503. + Nehem. iii. l. xii. 22.
Nehem. xii. 22. Prid i. 538.
the dead carcass of the man you have slain ? And then proceeding into the temple itself, and examining the merits of the case, he imposed a fine, which is estimated at from £1,150. to £1,750. per annum, which continued about seven years afterwards.
During the same pontificate, Ochus, who had succeeded Artaxerxes Mnemon on the throne of Persia,t having quelled the revolt in Phænicia, and reduced the city of Sidon to ashes, I
* Prid. i. 541. 543. Josephus calls Joiada, Judas; Johanan, John;
Jos. ii. 128. Antiq. xi. 7.
+ Prid. i. 547. This was probably one of the oldest cities in the world, and named after the eldest son of Canaan. (Gen. x. 15. 19.) It was also a great city. (Josh. xi. 8. xix. 28.) She was the mother of Old Tyre, (Is. xxiii. 12. Newton, i. 175.); and she is included in most* of the denunciations against both Old and New Tyre; but there is one which seems peculiar to herself, and to foretel this very siege and its results. “Son of man set thy face against Zidon, and prophesy against it, and say, Thus saith the Lord God, Behold I am against thee, O Zidon, and I will be glorified in the midst of thee, and they shall know that I am Jehovah, when I shall have executed judgments in her, and shall be sanctified in her. For I will send into her pestilence, and blood into her streets, and the wounded shall be judged in the midst of her by the sword upon her on every side, and they shall know that I am Jehovah." Ezek. xxviii. 21, 22, 23. “Tennes was at this time king of Zidon, and he had with him Mentor, the Rhodian, with four thousand Greek mercenaries; but on the approach of Ochus, both the one and the other betrayed the Zidonians, and allowed the Persians to come into the city, which was well fortified both by land and by sea. The inhabitants, finding themselves thus betrayed, retired into their houses, set fire to them over their own heads, and no less than forty thousand men, besides women and children, were destroyed; and last of all, Ocbus put Tennes himself to death. There were such vast quantities of gold and silver in Sidon when this calamity happened, and which was all melted down by the flames, that Ochus sold the ashes of the ruined city for great sums of money.” Prid. i. 553. Un, llist. i. 411. So true is it that the goods of the wicked shall flow
• Is. xxiii. 2. 4. Jer. xlvii. 4. Ezek. xxxii. 30. Joel, iii. 4. Zech. ix. 2.