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PARK, SINCLAIR, AND CO.
This Work is copyright in this country by arrangement with the Author.
LIST OF CONTENTS.
MESSIANIC PREDICTIONS IN THE PROPHETS.
Importance of the Messianic Prophecies,
Messianic Expectations among the Heathen,
The Divinity of the Messiah in the Old Testament,
THE PROPHET ZECHARIAH.
HITHERTO the prophet has chiefly confined himself to the bright side of the picture, in his announcement of the future which awaits the covenant nation (compare especially chap. v.); but another scene suddenly presents itself, and it is only when he has communicated this to his hearers and readers, that his description of the future, which has thus far, though true, been only one-sided, is fully completed, and sufficient precaution taken to prevent the abuse which a carnal mind might make of this partial representation.'
This section is divided into three parts. The first three verses, which serve as a prelude, describe the ruin of the entire land by foes from without. A deeper insight into the cause of this is given by the prophet in an account of a twofold symbolical process which took place within his mind. In the first (vers. 4—14), the prophet takes the place of the angel of the Lord and depicts his future proceedings. Israel, which is doomed to be destroyed by the judgments of God, appears as a flock destined for the
1 Calvin has well observed: "These predictions appear to contradict one another. But it was necessary that the blessings of God should first of all be announced to the Jews, in order that they might engage with greater alacrity in the work of building the temple, and might feel assured that they were not wasting their time. It was now desirable to address them in a different style, lest, as was too generally the case, hypocrites should be hardened by their vain confidence in these promises. It was also requisite, in order that the faithful should take alarm in time, and earnestly draw near to God; since nothing is more destructive than false security, and wherever sin is committed without restraint, the judgment of God is close at hand."
slaughter. The prophet makes an effort to save it. He takes upon himself the office of shepherd, and tries to rescue it from the wicked shepherds, who would lead it to destruction. But the obstinacy of both shepherds and flock compels him to give up his office and leave the flock to that utter misery, which he alone has hitherto been the means of averting. He now asks for his wages; and they give him the contemptible sum of thirty pieces of silver. In this manner the last manifestation of mercy on the part of God towards his people through the Messiah, and their subsequent rejection, are typified. By the command of the Lord the prophet then exhibits in a second symbolical action the wicked shepherds themselves, who will worry and destroy the flock after the good shepherd has been rejected by it.
Hofmann (Weissagung und Erfüllung i. p. 316) regards vers. 1-3 as forming the conclusion of the foregoing prophecy, whilst Bleek supposes these verses to contain a small and separate prophecy." But both are wrong, as is evident from the fact that the shepherds mentioned in ver. 3 are spoken of again in ver. 8, and that," feed," occurs in ver. 4, where it also refers to the same shepherds. The good shepherd, the angel of the Lord, is to make another attempt to rescue the people, whom the evil shepherds, the shepherds who are also lions, have led to destruction. Again, in vers. 15-17, the end of the section returns to the subject of its commencement. We see there the lion-shepherds, on whom judgment is represented in ver. 3 as having already fallen, in full action again, after the good shepherd has been removed out of the way. Moreover both opinions, Hofmann's as well as Bleek's, may be shown to rest upon a mistaken interpretation of vers. 1—3.
Ver. 1. "Open thy gates, O Lebanon, and let fire devour thy cedars."
The style is quite dramatic. The prophet, instead of announcing to Lebanon its future destruction, commands it, as the servant of God, to open its gates. The meaning, therefore, is, "thou, Lebanon, wilt be stormed and devastated by the foe." The question is whether this verse and those which follow are to be interpreted literally or allegorically.1
1 According to the testimony of Jarchi, Kimchi, and Abendana, the allegorical interpretation was a very ancient one among the Jews. From a passage