Introduction to the prophetical books of the old testament

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The prophetical histories are followed in the Old Testament canon by the prophetical books of prediction. The two together form the middle portion of the threefold canon, under the common name of נבִיאִים On account of their relative position in the canon, the former are also described as הָרִאשֹׁנִים נבִיאִים , the first prophets, and the latterהָאַחֲרוֹנִים , the last prophets. In the Masora this central portion is sometimes designated asאַשְׁלמְתֳא , possibly because it exhibits a complete and homogeneous whole. The first prophets are in that case distinguished from the last, as אשׁלמתא קַדְמָיְתָא and תִנְיָנָא אשׁלמתא.

The thorah is indeed also a prophetical work, since Moses, the mediator through whom the law was revealed, was for that very reason a prophet without an equal (Deu. 34:10); and even the final codification of the great historical law-book possessed a prophetical character (Ezr. 9:11). But it would not have been right to include the thorah (Pentateuch) in that portion of the canon which is designated as “the prophets” (nebiim), inasmuch as, although similar in character, it is not similar in rank to the other prophetical books. It stands by itself as perfectly unique — the original record which regulated on all sides the being and life of Israel as the chosen nation, and to which all other prophecy in Israel stood in a derivative relation. And this applies not to prophecy alone, but to all the later writings. The thorah was not only the type of the prophetic histories, but of the non-prophetic, the priestly, political, and popular histories also. The former followed the Jehovistic or Deuteronomic type, and the latter the Elohistic. The thorah unites the prophetical and (so to speak) hagiographical styles of historical composition in a manner which is peculiar to itself, and not to be met with in any of the works included among theנביאים ראשׁנים .
Those who imagine that it is only because of their later origin, that the historical words which are found among the hagiographa have not found their appropriate place among the “first prophets,” have evidently no idea whatever of this diversity in the style of historical writing. Ezra — whom we have good reason for regarding as the author of the larger “book of the Kings,” which the chronicler refers to under the title of “the story of the book of the Kings” (midrash sepher hammelacim, 2Ch. 24:27), a compilation relating to the history of Israel, to which he had appended the history of the time of the restoration as the concluding part — is never called a prophet (nabi), and in fact was not one. The chronicler — who not only had before him our book of Samuel, which has been so arbitrarily divided into two parts, and our book of Kings, which has been just as arbitrarily divided in the same manner, but used as his principal, authority the book of Ezra just referred to, and who worked out from this the compendium of history which lies before us, concluding with the memorabilia of Ezra, which we possess in a distinct form as the book of Ezra — also asserts no claim to be a prophet, and, judging from the liturgico-historical purpose of his work, is more likely to have been a priest. Nehemiah, from whose memorabilia our book of Nehemiah is an extract arranged in conformity with the book of Ezra, was, as we well know, not a prophet, but a TirsaÑta1, i.e., a royal Persian governor, and at the same time an Israelitish patriot, whose prayerful heart was set upon the welfare of his people, and who had performed good service in connection with the restoration of Jerusalem by the erection of buildings and the introduction of reforms. The book of Esther, with its religious features kept as they are in the background, is as far removed as possible from the prophetic style of historical composition: it differs indeed from this quite as much as the feast of purim — that Jewish carnival — differs from the feast of passover, the Israelitish Christmas. It does appear surprising, however, that the book of Ruth should stand among the hagiographa. This little book is so similar in character to the concluding portion of the book of Judges (Jud. 17-21), that it might be placed between Judges and Samuel. And in all probability it did stand there originally, but for liturgical reasons it was added to the so-called five megilloth (festal rolls), which follow one another in our editions, so to speak, according to the calendar of feasts of the ecclesiastical year: for the Song of Solomon is the lesson for the eighth day of the feast of passover; Ruth, that of the second day of the feast of Shabuoth (pentecost); Kinoth (Lamentations), that of the ninth Abib; Koheleth (Ecclesiastes), that of the third day of the feast of tabernacles; and Esther, that of the feast of purim, which fell in the middle of Adar.
This is also the simplest answer to the question why the Lamentations of Jeremiah are not placed among the prophetic writings, and appended, as we should expect, to the collection of Jeremiah’s prophecies. The Psalms are placed first among the hagiographa — although David might be called a prophet (Act. 2:30), and Asaph is designated “the seer” — for the simple reason that they do not belong to the literature of prophecy, but to that of the shir Jehovah, i.e., the sacred (liturgical) lyric poetry. Their prophetic contents rest entirely upon a lyric ground, whereas it is the very reverse with the Lamentations of Jeremiah, the lyric contents of which, though less prophetic in themselves, presuppose throughout the official position and teaching of Jeremiah the prophet. The canonical nebiim or prophets embrace only the writings of such persons as were called to proclaim the word of God publicly, whether in writing or by word of mouth; not like the priests, according to definite modes prescribed by the law, but in a free unfettered manner, by virtue of a special gift and calling. The word nabi is to be regarded, as we may judge from its Arabic flexion, not as a passive, but as an active form; in fact, as an emphatic form of the active participle, denoting the proclaimer, publisher, speaker, namely, of God and of His secrets. The oldest use of the word (vid., Gen. 20:7, cf., 18:17-19, and Psa. 105:15), which was revived by the chronicler, is incomparably less restricted in its meaning than the later use. But when used to designate the middle portion of the Old Testament canon, although the word is not so limited as in Am. 7:14, where it signifies a man who has passed through a school of the prophets and been trained in intercourse with other prophets, and has made prophetic teaching from the very first the exclusive profession of his life; yet it is employed in a sense connected with the organization of the theocratic life, as the title given to those who stood forward as public teachers by virtue of a divine call and divine revelations, and who therefore not only possessed the gift (charisma) of prophecy, but performed the duties of a prophet both in preaching and writing, and held an office to which, at least on Ephraimitish soil, the institution of schools of the prophets gave the distinct stamp of a separate order. This will serve to explain the fact that the book of Daniel was not placed among the nebiim. Daniel himself was not a prophet in this sense. Not only was the mode in which the divine revelations were made to him a different one from the prevailing ἐπίπνοια προφητικη, as Julius Africanus observes in his writing to Origen concerning Susanna, but he did not hold the office of a prophet; and for this reason even the Talmud (b. Megilla 3a), when speaking of the relation in which the prophets after the captivity stood to him, says, “They stood above him, for they were prophets; but he was not a prophet.” “A distinction must be drawn,” as Witsius has said, “between the gift of prophecy, which was bestowed even upon private persons, and consisted in the revelation of secret things, and the prophetic office, which was an extraordinary function in the church, committed to certain persons who were set apart by a special call from God.”2 The reason, therefore, why all the historical and prophetic books which are to be found among the hagiographa (cethubim, which the son of Sirach speaks of in his prologue as “other books of our fathers,” and “the rest of the books”) were excluded from the second or middle part of the Old Testament canon called nebiim, rested upon a primary distinction between writings that were strictly prophetic and writings that were not so, — a distinction which existed in the domain of history as well as in that of prophecy. Thus the historical books from Joshua to Kings, and the prophetical books from Isaiah to Malachi, were separated, as works written by men whose vocation in life was that of a prophet and therefore works of a prophetical character, from such books as Chronicles and Daniel, which were written indeed under the influence of the Holy Spirit, but not in the exercise of a prophetical calling received through a prophetical impulse of the Spirit of God. The two different kinds of historical composition are also perfectly unmistakeable. Each of them has its own peculiar history. Of course it is quite possible for a prophetical history like the book of Kings, or an annalistic history like that of Chronicles, to embrace within itself certain ingredients which really belong to the other historical style; but when we have once discovered the characteristics of the two styles, it is almost always possible to single out at once, and with perfect certainty, those ingredients which are foreign to the peculiar character of the work in which they are found, and have simply been made subservient to the writer’s plan. It is very necessary, therefore, that we should look more minutely at the two styles of historical writing, for the simple reason that the literature of the books of prophecy gradually arose out of the literature of the prophetical books of history, and so eventually attained to an independent standing, though they never became entirely separate and distinct, as we may see from the book of Isaiah itself, which is interwoven with many fragments of prophetico-historical writing. The oldest type of non-prophetic historical writing is to be found, as we have already observed, in the priestly Elohistic style which characterizes one portion of the Pentateuch, as distinguished from the Jehovistic or Deuteronomic style of the other. These two types are continued in the book of Joshua; and taken as a whole, the Jehovistic, Deuteronomic type is to be been in those sections which relate to the history of the conquest; the priestly, Elohistic, in those which refer to the division of the land. At the same time, they are coloured in many other ways; and there is nothing to favour the idea that the book of Joshua ought to be combined with the Pentateuch, so as to form a hexateuchical whole. The stamp of prophetic history is impressed upon the book of Judges at the very outset by the introduction, which shows that the history of the judges is to be regarded as a mirror of the saving government of God; whilst the concluding portion, like the book of Ruth, is occupied with Bethlehemitish narratives that point to the Davidic kingdom, the kingdom of promise, which formed the direct sphere of prophecy. The body of the book is founded, indeed, upon oral and even written forms of the saga of the judges; but not without the intervention of a more complete work, from which only extracts are given, and in which the prophetic pencil of a man like Samuel had combined into one organic whole the histories of the judges not only to the time of Samson, but to the entire overthrow of the Philistian oppression. That the books of Samuel are a prophetico-historical work, is expressly attested by a passage in the Chronicles, of which we shall speak more fully presently; but in the passages relating to the conflicts with the four Philistian children of the giants (2Sa. 21:15ff. = 1Ch. 20:4ff.), and to the Davidic gibborim, i.e., the heroes who stood nearest to him (2Sa. 23:8ff. = 1Ch. 11:11ff.), they contain at least two remnants of popular or national historical writing, in which we discern a certain liking for the repetition of the same opening and concluding words, which have all the ring of a refrain, and give to the writing very much of the character of an epic or popular ode, suggesting, as Eisenlohr has said, the legend of Roland and Artus, or the Spanish Cid. We find more of these remains in the Chronicles — such, for example, as the list of those who attached themselves to David in Ziklag, and, in fact, during the greater part of Saul’s persecutions. It commences thus: “And these are they that came to David to Ziklag, whilst still hard pressed on the part of Saul the son of Kish; and they belong to the heroes, those ready to help in war, armed with bows, both with the right hand and the left hand using stones and arrows by means of the bow.” Some of these fragments may have fallen singly and unwrought into the hands of the later historians; but so far as they are tabulated, the chronicler leaves us in no doubt as to the place where they were chiefly to be found. After giving a census of the Levites from thirty years old and upwards, in 1Ch. 23:2-24a, he adds, in v. 24b and the following verses, in a fragmentary manner, that David, taking into account the fact that the hard work of past times had no longer to be performed, lowered the age for commencing official service to twenty, “for in the last words of David (dibre David ha-acheronim) the descendants of Levi are numbered from the twentieth year of their age.” He refers here to the last part of the history of David’s life in the “book of the kings of Israel” (sepher malce Israel), which lay before him; and from what other work such lists as these had been taken into this his main source, we may learn from 1Ch. 27:24, where he follows up the list of the tribe-princes of Israel with this remark with reference to a general census which David had intended to take: “Joab the son of Zeruiah began to number, but he did not finish it; and there arose a bursting forth of wrath upon Israel in consequence, and this numbering was not placed in the numbering (במספר, readבספר , ‘in the book’) of the chronicles (dibre hayyamim) of David.” Consequently the annals or chronicles of David contained such tabular notices as these, having the character of popular or national historical composition; and they were copied from these annals into the great king’s-book, which lay before the chronicler.
The official annals commenced with David, and led to those histories of the kingdom from which the authors of the books of Kings and Chronicles for the most part drew their materials, even if they did not do so directly. Saul’s government consisted chiefly in military supremacy, and the unity of the kingdom as renewed by him did not embrace much more than the simple elements of a military constitution. But under David there grew up a reciprocal relation between the throne and the people, of the most comprehensive character; and the multiplication of government offices followed, as a matter of course, from the thorough organization of the kingdom. We find David, as head of the kingdom, asserting his official supremacy on all hands, even in relation to religious affairs, and meet with several entirely new posts that were created by him. Among these was the office of mazcir (recorder in Eng. ver.: Tr.), i.e., as the LXX have often rendered it, ὑπομνηματόγραφος or (in 2Sa. 8:16) ἐπι τῶν ὑπομάτων (Jerome: a commentariis, a thoroughly Roman translation). The Targums give a similar rendering,מִמַנַּא אַל־דַּכִרַנַיַּא , the keeper of the memorabilia (i.e., of the “book of records” or annals, 2Ch. 34:8, cf., Ezr. 4:15, Esther 6:10. The mazcir had to keep the annals of the kingdom; and his office was a different one from that of the sopher, or chancellor. The sopher (scribe in Eng. ver.: Tr.) had to draw up the public documents; the mazcir had to keep them, and incorporate them in the connected history of the nation. Both of these offices are met with throughout the whole of the East, both ancient and modern, even to the remotest parts of Asia.3 It is every evident that the office in question was created by David, from the fact that allusions to the annals commence with the chronicles (dibre hayyamim) of David (1Ch. 27:24), and are continued in the sepher dibre Shelomoh (a contraction for sepher dibre hayyamim Shelomoh, “book of the chronicles of Solomon,” 1Ki. 11:41). The references are then carried on in Judah to the end of the reign of Jehoiakim, and in Israel to the end of the reign of Pekah. Under David, and also under Solomon, the office of national annalist was filled by Jehoshaphat ben-AhiluÑd. The fact that, with the exception of the annals of David and Solomon, the references are always made to annals of the “kings of Judah” and “kings of Israel,” admits of a very simple explanation. If we regard the national annals as a complete and independent work, they naturally divide themselves into four parts, of which the first two treated of the history of the kingdom in its unity; the last two, viz., the annals of the kings of Judah and Israel, of the history of the divided kingdom. The original archives, no doubt, perished when Jerusalem was laid in ashes by the Chaldeans. But copies were taken from them and preserved, and the histories of the reigns of David and Solomon in the historical books which have come down to us, and are peculiarly rich in annalistic materials, show very clearly that copies of the annals of David and Solomon were taken and distributed with special diligence, and that they were probably circulated in a separate form, as was the case with some of the decades of Livy.
Richard Simon supposed the écrivains publics to be prophets; and upon this hypothesis he founded an exploded view as to the origin of the Old Testament writings. Even in more recent times the annals have occasionally been regarded as prophetic histories, in which case the distinction between prophetic and annalistic histories would unquestionably fall to the ground. But the arguments adduced in support of this do not prove what is intended. In the first place, appeal is made to the statements of the chronicler himself, with regard to certain prophetic elements in the work which constituted his principal source, viz., the great king’s-book; and it is taken for granted that this great king’s-book contained the combined annals of the kings of Judah and Israel. But (a) the chronicler speaks of his principal source under varying names as a book of the kings, and on one occasion as dibre , i.e., res gestae or historiae, of the kings of Israel (2Ch. 33:18), but never as the annals of the kings of Israel or Judah: he even refers to it once as midrash sepher hammelacim (commentarius libri regum), and consequently as an expository and more elaborate edition either of our canonical book of Kings, or else (a point which we will leave undecided) of an earlier book generally. (b) In this midrash the history of the kings was undoubtedly illustrated by numerous comprehensive prophetico-historical portions: but the chronicler says expressly, on several occasions, that these were ingredients incorporated into it (2Ch. 20:34; 32:32); so that no conclusion can be drawn from them with regard to the prophetic authorship of his principal source, and still less as to that of the annals. We do not, in saying this, dispute for a moment the fact, that there were prophetic elements to be found among the documents admitted into the annals, and not merely such as related to levitical and military affairs, or others of a similar kind; nor do we deny that the interposition of great prophets in the history of the times would be there mentioned and described. There are, in fact, distinct indications of this, of which we shall find occasion to speak more fully by and by. But it would be the greatest literary blunder that could be made, to imagine that the accounts of Elijah and Elisha, for example, which have all the stamp of their Ephraimitish and prophetic authorship upon the forefront, could possibly have been taken from the annals; more especially as Joram the king of Israel, in whose reign Elisha lived, is the only king of the northern kingdom in connection with whose reign there is no reference to the annals at all. The kind of documents, which were principally received into the annals and incorporated into the connected history, may be inferred from such examples as 2Ch. 35:4, where the division of the Levites into classes is taken from “the writing of David” and “the writing of Solomon:” whether we suppose that the documents in question were designated royal writings, because they were drawn up by royal command and had received the king’s approval; or that the sections of the annals, in which they were contained, were really based upon documents written with the king’s own hand (vid., 1Ch. 28:11-19). When we bear in mind that the account given by the chronicler of the arrangements made by David with reference to priests and Levites rests upon the annals as their ultimate source, we have, at any rate, in 2Ch. 35:4 a confirmation of the national, and so to speak, regal character of the year-books in question.
A second argument employed to prove that the annals were prophetic histories, is the fact that otherwise they would not have been written in a theocratic spirit, especially in the kingdom of Israel. But (1) their official or state origin is evident, from the fact that they break off just where the duties of the prophets as historiographs really began. For fourteen of the references to the annals in our book of Kings, from Rehoboam and Jeroboam onwards, are to be found in the history of the kings of Judah (it being only in the case of Ahaziah, Amaziah, and Jehoahaz that the references are wanting), and seventeen in the history of the kings of Israel (the reference failing in the case of Joram alone); whilst in both lines the annals do not reach to the last king in each kingdom, but only to Jehoiakim and Pekah, from which we may conclude that the writing of annals was interrupted with the approaching overthrow of the two kingdoms. Now, if (b) we examine the thirty-one references carefully, we shall find that sixteen of them merely affirm that the rest of the acts of the king in question, what he did, are written in the annals (1Ki. 14:29; 2Ki. 8:23; 12:20; 15:6, 36; 16:19; 21:25; 23:28; 24:5; 1Ki. 15:31; 16:14; 2Ki. 1:18; 15:11, 21, 26, 31). In the case of four Israelitish kings, it is simply stated in addition to this, that their geburah (might, heroism, i.e., their bravery in war) is written in the annals (1Ki. 16:5,27; 2Ki. 10:34; 13:8). But in the accounts of the following kings we find more precise statements as to what was to be read in the annals concerning them, viz.: Abijam carried on war with Jeroboam, as might be read in them (1Ki. 15:7); in the case of Asa they contained an account of “his heroism, and all that he did, and the cities which he built” (1Ki. 15:23); in that of Jehoshaphat — ”the heroic acts that he performed, and what wars he carried on” (1Ki. 22:46); in that of Hezekiah — ”all his heroism, and how he made the pool, and the aqueduct, and brought the water into the city” (2Ki. 20:20); in that of Manasseh — ”all that he did, and his sin in which he sinned” (2Ki. 21:17); in that of Jeroboam — ”what wars he waged, and how he reigned” (1Ki. 14:19); in that of Zimri — ”his conspiracy that he set on foot” (1Ki. 16:20); in that of Ahab — ”all that he did, and the ivory house which he erected, and all the towns that he built” (1Ki. 22:39); in that of Joash — ”his heroism, how he fought with Amaziah king of Judah” (2Ki. 13:12; 14:15); in that of Jeroboam II — ”his heroism, how he warred, and how he recovered Damascus and Hamath to Judah in Israel” (2Ki. 14:28); and in that of Shallum— ”his conspiracy which he made” (2Ki. 15:15). These references furnish a very obvious proof, that the annalistic history was not written in a prophetico- pragmatical form; though there is no necessity on that account to assume, that in either of the two kingdoms it stopped to courtly flattery, or became the mere tool of dynastic selfishness, or of designs at variance with the theocracy. It simply registered outward occurrences, entering into the details of new buildings, and still more into those of wars and warlike deed; it had its roots in the spirit of the nation, and moved in the sphere of the national life and its institutions; in comparison with the prophetic histories, it was more external than idea, — more purely historical than didactic, — more of the nature of a chronicle than written with any special bias of intention: in short, it was more distinctly connected with political than with sacred history.
From the time of Samuel, with whom the prophetic period in the history of the legally constituted Israel strictly speaking commenced (Act. 3:24), the prophets as a body displayed great literary activity in the department of historical composition. This is evident from the numerous references made by the author of the Chronicles to original historical writings by prophetic authors. At the close of the history of David he refers to the dibre (Eng. ver. “book”) of Samuel the seer, Nathan the prophet, and Gad the seer; at the close of the history of Solomon (2Ch. 9:29), to dibre (Eng. ver. “book”) of Nathan the prophet, nebuoth (Eng. ver. “the prophecy”) of Ahijah the Shilonite, and chazoth (visions) of Ye’di (Ye’do; Eng. ver. Iddo) the seer; in the case of Rehoboam (2Ch. 12:15), to dibre of Shemaiah the prophet and ‘Iddo the seer; in that of Abijah (2Ch. 13:22), to the midrash (Eng. ver. “story”) of the prophet ‘Iddo; in that of Jehoshaphat (2Ch. 20:34), to dibre of Jehu ben Hanani, which were included in the book of the kings of Israel; in that of Uzziah (2Ch. 26:22), to a complete history of that king, which had been composed by Isaiah ben Amoz; in that of Hezekiah (2Ch. 32:32), to a chazon (Eng. ver. “vision”) of Isaiah, which was to be found in the book of the kings of Judah and Israel; and in that of Manasseh (2Ch. 33:19), to dibre of Hosai. The question might be raised, indeed, whether the dibre referred to in these passages are not to be understood — as in 1Ch. 23:27, for example — as signifying the historical account of such and such a person; but the following are sufficient proofs that the chronicler used the expression in the sense of historical accounts written by the persons named. In the first place, we may see from 2Ch. 27:22 how customary it was for him to think of prophets as historians of particular epochs of the history of the kings; secondly, even in other passages in which the name of a prophet is connected with dibre , — such, for example, as 2Ch. 29:30; 33:18, — the former is the genitive of the subject or author, not of the object; thirdly, in the citations given above, dibre is used interchangeably withעל־דברי , which requires still more decidedly that it should be understood as denoting authorship: and fourthly, this is placed beyond all doubt by the alternation of midrash Iddo (2Ch. 13:22), with dibre Iddo (2Ch. 12:15). At the same time, it is evident that these accounts, which are called by prophets’ names, were not lying before the chronicler in the form of separate writings in addition to the work which constituted his principal source, from the fact that, with the exception of 2Ch. 33:18, 19, he never quotes the two together. They were incorporated into the midrash sephere hammelakim (“the story of the book of the kings,” Eng. ver.), which lay before him (2Ch. 24:27), though not without showing their prophetic origin in distinction from the annalistic sources of the work in question; and inasmuch as it is inconceivable that the authors of our canonical books of Samuel and Kings should have made no use of these prophetic records, the question is allowable, whether it is still possible for critical analysis to trace them out either in whole or in part, with the same certainty with which it can be affirmed that the list of officers which is employed as a boundary-stone in 2Sa. 20:23-26, and the general survey of Solomon’s ministers and court in 1Ki. 4:2-19, together with the account of the daily provision for the royal kitchen in 1Ki. 4:22, 23, and the number of stalls for the king’s horses in 1Ki. 4:26, 27, and others of a similar kind, were taken from the annals.
This is not the place in which to enter more minutely into such an analysis. It is quite sufficient for our purpose to have exhibited, in the citations we have made from the Chronicles, the stirring activity of the prophets as historians from the time of Samuel onwards; although this is evident enough, even without citations, from the many prophetico-historical extracts from the writings of the prophets which we find in the book of Kings. Both authors draw either directly or indirectly from annalistic and prophetic sources. But when we look at the respective authors, and their mode of rounding off and working up the historical materials, the book of Kings and the Chronicles exhibit of themselves, at least as a whole, the two different kinds of historical composition; for the book of Kings is a thoroughly prophetic book, the Chronicles a priestly one. The author of the book of Kings formed his style upon the model of Deuteronomy and the prophetic writings; whilst the chronicler so thoroughly imitated the older dibre-hayyamim style, that it is often impossible to distinguish his own style from that of the sources which came either directly or indirectly to his hand; and consequently his work contains a strange admixture of very ancient and very modern forms. The observation inserted in 2Ki. 17:7ff. shows clearly enough in what spirit and with what intention the writer of the book of Kings composed his work. Like the author of the book of Judges, who wrote in a kindred spirit (see Jud. 2:11ff.), he wished to show, in his history of the kings, how the Israel of the two kingdoms sank lower and lower both inwardly and outwardly till it had fallen into the depths of captivity, in consequence of its contempt of the word of god as spoken by the prophets, and still more because of the radical evil of idolatry; but how Judah, with its Davidic government, was not left without hope of rescue from the abyss, provided it would not shut its heart against such prophetic preaching as was to be found in its own past history. The chronicler, on the other hand, whose love to the divinely chosen monarchy and priesthood of the tribes of Judah and Levi is obvious enough, from the annalistic survey with which he prefaces his work, commences with the mournful end of Saul, and wastes no words upon the path of sorrow through which David reached the throne, but passes at once to the joyful beginning of his reign, which he sets before us in the popular, warlike, priestly style of the annals. He then relates the history of Judah and Jerusalem under the rule of the house of David, almost without reference to the history of the northern kingdom, and describes it with especial completeness wherever he has occasion to extol the interest shown by the king in the temple and worship of God, and his co-operation with the Levites and priests. The author of the book of Kings shows us in prophecy the spirit which pervaded the history, and the divine power which moulded it. The chronicler exhibits in the monarchy and priesthood the two chambers of its beating heart. In the former we see storm after storm gather in the sky that envelopes the history, according to the attitude of the nation and its kings towards the word of God; with the latter the history is ever encircled by the cloudless sky of the divine institutions. The writer of the Chronicles dwells with peculiar preference, and a certain partiality, upon the brighter portions of the history; whereas, with the author of the book of Kings, the law of retribution which prevails in the historical materials requires that at least an equal prominence should be given to the darker side. In short, the history of the book of Kings is more inward, divine, theocratic in its character; that of the Chronicles more outward, human, and popular. The author of the book of Kings writes with a prophet’s pen; the chronicler with the pen of an annalist.
Nevertheless, they both of them afford us a deep insight into the laboratory of the two modes of writing history; and the historical productions of both are rich in words of the prophets, which merit a closer inspection, since they are to be regarded, together with the prophetico-historical writings quoted, as precludes and side-pieces to the prophetic literature, properly so called, which gradually established itself in more or less independence, and to which the nebiim acharonim (the last prophets) belong. The book of Kings contains the following words and sayings of prophets: (1) Ahijah of Shilo to Jeroboam (1Ki. 11:29-39); (2) Shemaiah to Rehoboam (1Ki. 12:22-24); (3) a man of God to the altar of Jeroboam (1Ki. 13:1, 2); (4) Ahijah to the wife of Jeroboam (1Ki. 14:5-16); (5) Jehu ben Hanani to Baasha (1Ki. 16:1-4); (6) a prophet to Ahab king of Israel (1Ki. 20:13, 14, 22, 28); (7) a pupil of the prophets to Ahab (1Ki. 20:35ff.); (8) Elijah to Ahab (1Ki. 21:17-26); (9) Micha ben Yimla to the two kings Ahab and Jehoshaphat (1Ki. 22:14ff.); (10) Elisha to Jehoram and Jehoshaphat (2Ki. 3:11ff.); (11) a pupil of Elisha to Jehu (2Ki. 9:1-10); (12) a massa concerning the house of Ahab (2Ki. 9:25, 26); (13) Jehovah to Jehu (2Ki. 10:30); (14) Jonah to Jeroboam II (indirectly; 2Ki. 14:25-27); (15) leading message of the prophets (2Ki. 17:13); (16) Isaiah’s words to Hezekiah (2Ki. 19-20); (17) threat on account of Manasseh (2Ki. 21:10-15); (18) Huldah to Josiah (2Ki. 22:14ff.); (19) threat of Jehovah concerning Judah (2Ki. 23:27). Of all these prophetic words and sayings, Nos. 2, 9, and 18 are the only ones that are given by the chronicler (2Ch. 11:2-4, 18, and 34), partly because he confined himself to the history of the kings of Judah, and partly because he wrote with the intention of supplementing our book of Kings, which was no doubt lying before him. On the other hand, we find the following words of prophets in the Chronicles, which are wanting in the book of Kings: (1) words of Shemaiah in the war between Rehoboam and Shishak (2Ch. 12:7, 8); (2) Azariah ben Oded before Asa (2Ch. 15:1-7); (3) Hanani to Asa (2Ch. 16:7-9); (4) Jahaziel the Asaphite in the national assembly (2Ch. 20:14-17); (5) Eliezer ben Dodavahu to Jehoshaphat (2Ch. 20:37); (6) letter of Elijah to Jehoram (2Ch. 21:12-15); (7) Zechariah ben Jehoiada in the time of Joash (2Ch. 24:20); (8) a man of God to Amaziah (2Ch. 25:7-9); (9) a prophet to Amaziah (2Ch. 25:15, 16); (10) Oded to Pekah (2Ch. 28:9-11). To extend the range of our observation still further, we may add, (1) the address of the maleach Jehovah in Bochim (Jud. 2:1-5); (2) the address of a prophet (ish nabi) to Israel, in Jud. 6:8-10; (3) that of a man of God to Eli (1Sa. 2:27ff.); (4) Jehovah to Samuel concerning Eli’s house (1Sa. 3:11-14); (5) Samuel to Israel before the battle at Ebenezer (1Sa. 7:3); (6) Samuel to Saul in Gilgal (1Sa. 13:13, 14); (7) Samuel to Saul after the victory over Amalek (1Sa. 15); (8) Nathan to David concerning his wish to build the temple (2Sa. 7); (9) Nathan to David after his adultery (2Sa. 12); (10) Gad to David after the numbering of the people (2Sa. 24).
If we take a general survey of these prophetic words and sayings, and compare them with one another, there can be no doubt that some of them have come down to us in their original form; such, for example, as the address of the man of God to Eli, in the first book of Samuel, and the words of Samuel to Saul after the victory over Amalek. This is guaranteed by their distinct peculiarity, their elevated tone, and the manifest difference between them and the ordinary style of the historian who relates them. In the case of others, at least, all that is essential in their form has been preserved; as, for example, in the addresses of Nathan to David: this is evident from the echoes that we find of them in the subsequent history. Among the sayings that have been handed down verbatim by the author of the book of Kings, we may include those of Isaiah, whose originality several things combine to sustain, — viz. the massa in 2Ki. 9:25, 26, the construction of which is peculiar and primitive; together with a few other brief prophetic words, possibly in all that is essential the words of Huldah: for it is only in the mouth of Huldah (2Ki. 22:19; 2Ch. 34:27) and Isaiah (2Ki. 19:33), and in the massa referred to, that we meet with the prophetic “saith the Lord” (נאֻם יהוָֹה), which we also find in 1Sa. 2:30, with other marks of originality, whilst its great antiquity is attested by Gen. 22:16, the Davidic Psalms, and 2Sa. 23:1. In some of these sayings the historian is not at all concerned to give them in their original words: they are simply prophetic voices generally, which were heard at a particular time, and the leading tones of which he desires to preserve, — such, for example, as Jud. 6:8-10, 2Ki. 17:13; 21:10-15. Reproductions of prophetic witnesses in so general a form as this naturally bear the stamp of the writer who reproduces them. In the books of Judges and Kings, for example, they show clearly the Deuteronomic training of their last editors. But we can go still further, and maintain generally, that the prophecies in the books of Samuel, Kings, and Chronicles contain marked traces of the historian’s own hand, as well as of the sources from which they were indirectly drawn. Such sayings as are common to the two books (Chronicles and Kings) are almost word for word the same in the former as in the latter; but the rest have all a marked peculiarity, and a totally different physiognomy. The sayings in the book of Kings almost invariably begin with “Thus saith the Lord,” or “Thus saith the Lord God of Israel” (also Jud. 6:8, and 2Ki. 19:20, before the message of Isaiah); and nothing is more frequent in them than the explanatory phraseיאַן אֲשֶׁר , and such Deuteronomic expressions asנתן ביד ,החטיא ,הכעים , and others; to which we may add a fondness for similes introduces with “as” (e.g., 1Ki. 14:10, 15; 2Ki. 21:13). The thought of Jehovah’s choosing occurs in the same words in 1Ki. 11:36 and 2Ki. 23:27; and the expression, “that David may have a light alway,” in 1Ki. 11:36, is exclusively confined to the Deuteronomic author of the work (vid., 1Ki. 15:4, 2Ki. 8:19, cf., 2Ch. 21:7). The words, “I exalted thee from among the people, and made thee prince over my people Israel,” are not only to be found in the second address of Ahijah in 1Ki. 14:7, but, with slight alteration, in the address of Jehu in ch.16:2. The words, “Him that dieth in the city shall the dogs eat, and him that dieth in the field shall the fowls of the air eat,” are found in the same form in Ahijah’s second address (1Ki. 14:11), in Jehu’s address (ch. 16:4), and in that of Elijah to Ahab (ch. 21:24). That threat, “I will cut off all that pisseth against the wall, that is shut up and that is free in Israel, and will sweep behind the house of Jeroboam,” is found, with trifling variations, in Ahijah’s second address (1Ki. 14:10), in Elijah’s address to Ahab (ch. 21:21), and in Elisha’s address to Jehu (2Ki. 9:8); whilst it is evident from 1Ki. 16:11 and 2Ki. 14:26, that the form of the threat is just in the style of the Deuteronomic historian. There can be no question, therefore, that nearly all these prophetic sayings, so far as a common impress can exist at all, are of one type, and that the common bond which encircles them is no other than the prophetic subjectivity of the Deuteronomic historian. A similar conclusion may be drawn with regard to the prophetic sayings contained in the Chronicles. They also bear so decidedly the evident marks of the chronicler’s own work, that Caspari himself, in his work upon the Syro-Ephraimitish war, is obliged to admit that the prophetic address in 2Ch. 15:2-7, which is apparently the most original of all, recals the peculiar style of the chronicler. At the same time, in the case of the chronicler, whose principal source of information must have resembled his own work in spirit and style (as we are warranted in assuming by the book of Ezra especially), it is not so easy to determine how far his own freedom of treatment extended as it is in the case of the author of the book of Kings, who appears to have found the greater part of the sayings given in mere outline in the annals, and in taking them thence, to have reproduced them freely, in the consciousness of his own unity of spirit with the older prophets.
If these sayings had been handed down to us in their original form, we should possess in them a remarkably important source of information with regard to the historical development of the prophetic ideas and modes of expression. We should then know for certain that Isaiah’s favourite phrase, “for the Lord hath spoken it,” was first employed by Ahijah (1Ki. 14:11); that when Joel prophesied “in Jerusalem shall be deliverance” (Joe. 2:32), he had already been preceded by Shemaiah (2Ch. 12:7); that Hosea (in Hos. 3:4, 5, cf., 5:15) took up the declaration of Azariah ben Oded, “And many days will Israel continue without the God of truth, and without a teaching priest, and without law; but when it turneth in its trouble,” etc. (2Ch. 15:3, 4, where, as the parallel proves, the preterites of v. 4 are to be interpreted according to the prophetic context); that in Jer. 31:16, “for thy work shall be rewarded,” we have the echo of another word of the same Azariah; that in the words spoken by Hanani in 2Ch. 16:9, “The eyes of the Lord run to and fro throughout the whole earth,” he was the precursor of Zechariah (Zec. 4:10); and other instances of a similar kind. But, with the influence which was evidently exerted upon the sayings quoted by the subjective peculiarities of the two historians (compare, for example, 2Ch. 15:2 with 13:4 and 1Ch. 28:9; 2Ch. 12:5 with 24:20; also v. 7 with 2Ch. 34:21, and the parallel 2Ki. 22:13 and 2Ch. 15:5, “In those times,” with Dan. 11:14), and with the difficulty of tracing the original elements in these sayings (it is quite possible, for example, that the thought of a light remaining to David, 1Ki. 15:4, 2Ki. 8:19, was really uttered first of all by Ahijah, 1Ki. 11:36), it is only a very cautious and sparing use that can be made of them for this purpose. It is quite possible, since Deuteronomy is the real prophet’s book, as compared with the other books of the Pentateuch, that the prophets of the earlier regal times took pleasure in employing Deuteronomic expressions; but it cannot be decided whether such expressions as “put my name there,” in 1Ki. 11:36, and “root up Israel,” etc., in 1Ki. 14:15, received their Deuteronomic form (cf., Deut. 12:5, 21; 14:24; 29:27) from the prophet himself, or from the author of the book of Kings (cf., 1Ki. 9:3, and the parallel passages, 2Ch. 7:20; 9:7, 2Ki. 21:7, 8). At the same time, quite enough of the original has been retained in the prophecies of these earlier prophets, to enable us to discern in them the types and precursors of the later ones. Shemaiah, with his threat and its subsequent modification in the case of Asa, calls to mind Micah and his words to Hezekiah, in Jer. 26:17ff. The attitude of Hanani towards Asa, when he had appealed to Aram for help, is just the same as that which Isaiah assumed towards Ahaz; and there is also a close analogy in the consequences of the two events. Hose and Amos prophesy against “the high places of Aven” (Hos. 10:8), and “the altars of Bethel” (Amo. 3:14; 9:1), like the man of God in Bethel. When Amos leaves his home in consequence of a divine call (Amo. 7:15) and goes to Bethel, the headquarters of the image-worship of the Israelites, to prophesy against the idolatrous kingdom; is there not a repetition in this of the account of the prophet in 1Ki. 13? And when Hanani is cast into prison on account of his denunciation of Asa; is not this a prelude, as it were, to the subsequent fate of Micah ben-Imlah (1Ki. 22) and Jeremiah (Jer. 32)? And so, again, Ahijah’s confirmation and symbolical representation of what he predicted, by the rending in pieces of a new garment (the symbol of the kingdom in its unity and strength), has its analoga in the history of the earlier prophets (1Sa. 15:26-29) as well as in that of the latest (e.g., Jer. 22). It is only such signs (mophethim), as that by which the prophet who came out of Judah into Bethel confirmed his prophecy, that disappear entirely from the alter history, although Isaiah does not think it beneath him to offer Ahaz a sign, either in the depth or in the height above, in attestation of his prophetic testimony.
There was no essential difference, however, between the prophets of the earlier and those of the later times; and the unity of spirit which linked together the prophets of the two kingdoms from the very first, notwithstanding the inevitable diversity in their labours in consequence of the different circumstances in which they were placed, continued all through. Still we do meet with differences. The earlier prophets are uniformly occupied with the internal affairs of the kingdom, and do not bring within their range the history of other nations, with which that of Israel was so intimately interwoven. Their prophecies are directed exclusively to the kings and people of the two kingdoms, and not to any foreign nation at all, either to those immediately adjoining, or what we certainly might expect, to Egypt and Aram. The Messianic element still remains in a somewhat obscure chrysalis state; and the poetry of thoughts and words, which grew up afterwards as the result of prophetic inspiration, only just manifests itself in certain striking figures of speech. It is indeed true, as we have already seen, that it is hardly possible to pronounce a decided opinion respecting the delivery of these earlier prophets; but from a sufficiently reliable and general impression, we may trace this distinction between the prophecy which prevailed till about the reign of Joash and that of the later times, that the former was for the most part prophecy in irresistible actions, the latter prophecy in convincing words. As G. Baur has observed; in the case of the older prophets it is only as the modest attendants of mighty outward acts, that we meet with words at all concerned to produce clear inward conviction. For this very reason, they could hardly produce prophetic writings in the strict sense of the word. But from the time of Samuel downwards, the prophets had made the theocratic and pragmatic treatment of the history of their own times a part of the regular duties of their calling. The cloistral, though by no means quietistic, retirement of their lives in the schools of the prophets, was very favourable to this literary occupation, more especially in the northern kingdom, and secured for it unquestioned liberty. We may see, however, from 2Ch. 20:34, that the prophets of Judah also occupied themselves with writing history; for the prophet Jehu was a Judaean, and, as we may infer from 2Ch. 19:1-3, had his home in Jerusalem.
The literature of the prophetic writings, strictly so called, commenced in the time of Jehoram king of Judah with a fugitive writing against Edom; if, as we think we have proved elsewhere, the vision of OBADIAH was occasioned by the calamity described in 2Ch. 21:16, 17, to which Joel and Amos also refer. He was followed by JOEL, who had Obadiah’s prophecy before him, since he introduces into the wider and more comprehensive range of his announcement, not only Obadiah’s prophetic matter, but Obadiah’s prophetic words. We may also see from Joel’s writings how the prophetic literature, in the stricter sense, sprang out of prophetical histories; for Joel himself relates the result of the penitential worship, which was occasioned by his appeal, in a historical statement in Joe. 2:18, 19a, through which the two halves of his writings are linked together. The time when he prophesied can be distinctly proved to have been the first half of the reign of Joash king of Judah. Obadiah and Joel were both of them contemporaries of Elisha. Elisha himself did not write anything, but the schools under his superintendence not only produced prophetic deeds, but prophetic writings also; and it is a characteristic circumstance, that the writings which bear the name of Jonah, whom an ancient Haggada describes as one of the sons of the prophets belonging to Elisha’s school, belong far less to the prophetic literature in the strict sense of the term than to the prophetical histories, and in fact to the historical writings of prophets. At what period it was that Jonah’s mission to Nineveh took place, may be gathered to some extent from 2Ki. 14:25, where Jonah ben-Ammitai, the prophet of Gath ha-Hepher, in the territory of Zebulun, is said to have predicted the restoration of the kingdom of Israel to its promised boundaries, — a prediction which was fulfilled in Jeroboam ben-Joash, the third in succession from Jehu, and therefore was uttered at the commencement of the reign of Jeroboam II, if not under Joash himself. The mission to Nineveh may possibly belong to a somewhat earlier period than this prediction, namely, to the time of the older Assyrian kingdom, which was fast approaching its dissolution. Eusebius is probably correct in making Sardanapalus the last ruler of the old kingdom of Ninos, who was overcome by Arbaces the Mede, a contemporary of Jeroboam II. A glance at the book of Amos, on the other hand, will show us that, at the time when he prophesied, a new Asshur was arising, and had already made considerable conquests. The date given in Am. 1:1, “two years before the earthquake,” does not afford us any clue. But if Amos prophesied “in the days of Uzziah king of Judah, and Jeroboam ben-Joash king of Israel;” assuming that Jeroboam II reigned forty-one years, commencing with the fifteenth year of Amaziah (2Ki. 14:23), and therefore was contemporary with Amaziah for fourteen years and with Uzziah for twenty-seven, it must have been in the last twenty-seven years of Jeroboam’s reign that Amos prophesied. At the time when his ministry began, the kingdom of Israel was at the summit of its greatness in consequence of the successes of Jeroboam, and the kingdom of Judah still continued in the depression into which it had fallen in the time of Amaziah; and to both of them he foretells a common fate at the hand of Asshur, which is indicated clearly enough, although not mentioned by name. The commencement of the ministry of HOSEA coincides at the most with the close of that of Amos. The symbolical portion (Isa. 1-3), with which his book commences, brings us to the five last years of Jeroboam’s reign; and the prophetic addresses which follow are not at variance with the statement in Isa. 1:1, which is by a later hand, and according to which he still continued to prophesy even under Hezekiah, and therefore until the fall of Samaria, which occurred in the sixth year of Hezekiah’s reign. Hosea, the Ephraimitish Jeremiah, was followed by Isaiah, who received his call, if Isa. 6 contains the account of his prophetic consecration, in the last year of Uzziah’s reign, and therefore twenty-five years after the death of Jeroboam II, and continued his labours at least till the second half of Hezekiah’s reign, possibly to the commencement of that of Manasseh. His younger contemporary was Micah of Moresheth, whose first appearance took place, according to Isa. 1:1, within the reign of Jotham, and whose book must have been written, according to the heading “concerning Samaria and Jerusalem, before the fall of Samaria, in the sixth year of Hezekiah’s reign (with which the account in Jer. 25:17ff. also agrees); so that his labours began and ended within the incomparably longer period of Isaiah’s ministry. This also applies to NAHUM, whose “burden of Nineveh” closes the prophetic writings of the Assyrian age. He prophesied after the defeat of Sennacherib, when the power of Asshur was broken, and also the yoke upon Judah’s neck (Isa. 1:13), provided, that is to say, that Asshur did not recover itself again. HABAKKUK is linked on to Nahum. He was the last prophet of Isaiah’s type in the book of twelve prophets, and began to foretell a new era of judgment, namely the Chaldean. He prophesied in the time of Josiah, before Zephaniah and Jeremiah, and possibly even as early as the time of Manasseh.
With ZEPHANIAH the line of prophets of Jeremiah’s type begins. He resembles Jeremiah in his reproductive, and, as it were, mosaic use of the words of the older prophets. As JEREMIAH was called, according to Jer. 1:2, in the thirteenth year of Josiah’s reign, his ministry commenced before that of Zephaniah, since we are compelled by internal grounds to assign the prophecies of the latter to the period subsequent to the eighteenth year of Josiah’s reign. Jeremiah’s labours in Judaea, and eventually in Egypt, extended over a period of more than forty years. He gave, as a warrant of the threats contained in his last prophetic address in Isa. 44, the approaching fall of Pharaoh Hophra, who lost his throne and life in the year 570 B.C., upon the very spot where his great- grandfather Psammetichus had obtained forcible possession of the throne of Egypt a century before. Contemporaneous with Jeremiah was Ezekiel, who, though not personally acquainted with him, so far as we know, laboured in the very same spirit as he among the exiles of Judah. According to Isa. 1:1, 2, the year of his call was the thirteenth year, viz., of the era of Nabopolassar, which was really the fifth years after the captivity of Jehoiachin, B.C. 595. The latest date given in connection with his ministry (Isa. 29:17) is the seven-and- twentieth year of the captivity, which was the sixteenth year from the destruction of Jerusalem, the time between Nebuchadnezzar’s raising of the siege of Tyre and his expedition against Egypt. We are aware, therefore, of twenty-two years of active life on the part of this prophet, who may have been older when called than Jeremiah, who was youthful still. Jeremiah and Ezekiel were the two great prophets who spread their praying hands over Jerusalem as a shield as long as they possibly could, and when the catastrophe was inevitable, saved it even in its fall. Their prophecies bridged over the great chasm of the captivity (though not without the co-operation of the “book of consolation,” Isa. 40-66, which was unsealed in the time of exile), and prepared the way for the restoration of the national community when the captivity was over. Into the community HAGGAI infused a new spirit in the second year of Darius Hystaspis, through his prediction of the glory which awaited the newly-built temple and the house of David, that was raised to honour once more in the person of Zerubbabel. ZECHARIAH began to prophesy only two months later. His last prophetic address belongs to the third year of Darius Hystaspis, the year after the edict requiring that the building of the temple should be continued. The predictions of the second part of his book (Isa. 9-14) were hardly delivered publicly: they are throughout eschatological and apocalyptical, and take earlier situations and prophetic words as emblems of the last days. Prophecy was now silent for a long time. At length the last prophetic voice of the old covenant has heard in MAL’ACHI. His book coincides with the condition of things which Nehemiah found on his second sojourn in Jerusalem under Darius Notus; and his peculiar calling in connection with the sacred history was to predict, that the messenger who was appointed to precede the coming of Jehovah would soon appear, — namely, Elijah the Tishbite, — and that he, the forerunner, a pioneer, would then be followed by the Lord Himself, as “the Angle of the covenant,” i.e., the Messenger or Mediator of a new covenant.
This general survey will show very clearly that the arrangement of the nebiim acharonim (last prophets) in the canon is not a strictly chronological one. The three “major” prophets, who are so called on account of the comparative size of their books of prophecy, are placed together; and the twelve “minor” prophets are also grouped together, so as to form one book (monobiblos, as Melito calls it), on account of the smaller extent of their prophetic books (propter parvitatem colligati, as b. Bathra says). To this the name of “the twelve,” or “the twelve-prophet-book,” was given (vid., Wisd. 49:10; Josephus, c. Apion, i. 8; cf., Eusebius, h. e. iii. 10). In the collection itself, on the other hand, the chronological order has so far been regarded, that the whole is divisible into three groups, representing three periods of prophetic literature, viz., prophets of the Assyrian period (Hosea to Nahum), prophets of the Chaldean period (Habakkuk and Zephaniah), and prophets after the captivity (Haggai to Malachi). And there is also an obvious desire to pair off as far as possible a prophet of the kingdom of Israel with one of the kingdom of Judah, viz., Hosea and Joel; Amos and Obadiah; Jonah and Micah; Nah. and Habakkuk (for the Elkosh of Nahum, if not the town on the eastern bank of the Tigris near to Mosul, was at any rate, according to Eusebius and Jerome, a Galilean town). Hosea is placed first, not because the opening word techillath made this book a very suitable one with which to begin the collection; still less because Hosea was the first to be called of the four prophets, Hosea and Isaiah, Amos and Micah, as b. Bathra affirms; but for the very same reason for which the Epistle to the Romans is placed first among the Pauline epistles, viz., because his book is the largest in the collection, — a point of view which comes out still more prominently in the Septuagint, where Hosea, Amos, Micah, Joel, and Obadiah follow one another, the first with fourteen chapters, the second with one, the third with seven, the fourth with three, and the last with one, and then a new series commences with Jonah. But the reason why Joel is placed next to Hosea in the Hebrew canon, may possibly be found in the contrast which exists between the lamentations of the former on account of the all-parching heat and the all-consuming swarms of insects, and the dewy, verdant, and flowery imagery with which the book of Hosea closes. Amos then follows Joel, because he not only takes up again his denunciations of judgment, but opens with one of the utterances with which Joel closes (Joe. 4:16): “Jehovah will roar out of Zion, and utter His voice from Jerusalem.” Then follows Obadiah, on account of the reciprocal relation between Obad. 1:19 and Am. 9:12. And Jonah is linked on to Obadiah: for Obadiah begins thus, “We have heard tidings from Jehovah, and a messenger is sent among the nations;” and Jonah was such a messenger. Such grounds as these, the further study of which we must leave to the introduction to the book of the twelve prophets, also had their influence upon the pairing of the prophets of Judah with those of Israel. The fact that Zephaniah follows Habakkuk may be accounted for from a similar ground, which coincides in this case with the chronological order; for a catchword in Zephaniah’s prophecy, “Hold thy peace at the presence of Jehovah” (Zep. 1:7), is taken from Hab. 2:20. The prophets after the captivity (called in the Talmud nebiim ha-acharonim, the last prophets), which necessarily followed one another in the order determined by the date and contents of their books, bring the whole to a close.
The so-called greater prophets are attached in the Hebrew canon to the book of Kings; and in both the Hebrew and Alexandrian canons Isaiah stands at the head. Isaiah, Jeremiah, Ezekiel — this is the order in which they follow one another in our editions, in accordance with the time of their respective labours. In German and French codices, we occasionally meet with a different arrangement, viz., Kings, Jeremiah, Ezekiel, Isaiah. This is the order given in the Talmud, b. Bathra, 14b. The principle upon which it is founded is the kindred nature of the contents, which also helped to determine the order of the twelve. Jeremiah follows the book of Kings, because nearly all his predictions group themselves around the Chaldean catastrophe, with which the book of Kings closes; and Isaiah follows Ezekiel, whose book closes in a consolatory strain, because that of Isaiah is, as the Talmud says, nothing but consolation. But the other arrangement, adopted in the Masora and MSS of the Spanish class, has prevailed over this talmudic order, which has been appealed to, though without any good ground, by the opponents of the authenticity of Isa. 40-66 as supporting their conclusions.4

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