4. The Books of the Old Testament.

There are thirty-nine books in the Old Testament, but the ancient Jewish writers reduced the number to twenty-two so that the sacred books might correspond in number to the twenty-two sacred letters of the Hebrew alphabet.

Testimony of Josephus.

Josephus, of Jewish historic fame, an unbeliever in Christ, born in Palestine about the time of Paul's conversion, and thoroughly conversant with Hebrew literature, probably more so than any man then living, thus writes: — "We have only two-and-twenty books which are justly believed to be of Divine authority, of which five are the books of Moses. From the death of Moses to the reign of Artaxerxes, the son of Xerxes, King of Persia, the prophets who were the successors of Moses have written in thirteen books. The remaining four books contain hymns to God, and precepts for the regulation of human life."

This arithmetical feat was accomplished by regarding the Pentateuch* as five separate books as in the Septuagint and in our English Bibles. The "thirteen books" written by the prophets were, (1) Joshua, (2) Judges with Ruth, (3) Samuel, (4) Kings, (5) Chronicles, (6) Isaiah, (7) Jeremiah with Lamentations, (8) Ezekiel, (9) Daniel, (10) The twelve minor prophets from Hosea to Malachi, (11) Job, (12) Ezra and Nehemiah, (13) Esther. The four remaining books are the Psalms, Proverbs, Ecclesiastes, and Song. It may appear singular to some that the twelve minor prophets should be so grouped, but in most, if not all ancient catalogues, they are regarded as one book, as also in all quotations from them. The reason of this, we suppose, was to facilitate an easy reference to these prophetic books. The modern Jews make up the Old Testament into twenty-four books.

{* Pentateuch is from the Greek words pente, five, and teuchos, book; thus the "five books" of Moses.}

The Pentateuch.

The first five books of Scripture were originally written in one scroll, according to Hebrew custom, and are still so used in Jewish reading in their synagogues. The distribution of the Pentateuch into separate books can be traced up to the days of Ezra, about 450 B.C. Their English titles, which are of Greek origin, are very inexact as descriptive of their character and contents. The Hebrew titles of the books are taken from the opening word or sentence of each, but are not regarded by the Jews as descriptive of their character. Thus the Hebrew Pentateuch, although not arranged in books, has yet fifty-four pretty lengthy sections, and six hundred and sixty-nine very short ones; while the English version has its five books — very ancient, and one hundred and eighty-seven chapters — the latter only dating from the thirteenth century.

It is an interesting circumstance that the Samaritans — the religious rivals of the Jews (John 4) — possessed a copy of the Pentateuch written in the ancient Phoenician or Hebrew characters, hence not a translation, which they regarded with peculiar veneration, and from which the woman of Samarian race gathered that Messias was to come (John 4:25). There are said to be several complete copies of the Samaritan Pentateuch now in Europe, and one is believed to date from the 8th century — the era of Mohammed. The Pentateuch, as a whole, was from earliest times familiarly spoken of by the Jews as "the law," or "the law of Moses." The Lord, and writers of the New Testament, frequently refer to and cite from the Pentateuch as a whole, as also its several books. The writings of Moses are held to be of equal authority with the words of the Lord Himself (Luke 16:31).

{In the book form, inserted here is a facsimile of a section of the Codex Alexandrinus (A). This MS., quoted as Codex A, was the first important text available for the use of scholars. Written in Greek, in uncial letters, it is of fifth century origin. It was presented to King Charles I in 1628, and is now in the British Museum, London. The portion reproduced here is from Luke's Gospel 12:54 — 13:4. On the next page is reproduced a section  of the Anglo-Saxon Gospels. Translated from the Latin Vulgate Text, and written near Bath in Wessex (S.W. England) about A.D.1000. Portion shown is John 1:1-13.}

When the Pentateuch was completed Moses directed it to be placed in the side of the Ark (Deut. 31:24, 26). Was this the identical copy of the law found by Hilkiah the high priest seven hundred and fifty years afterwards, amongst the rubbish in the Temple (2 Kings 22:8); or was it a copy transcribed from the original by one of the early kings (Deut. 17:18)? We believe it was the very copy of the law or Pentateuch written by the hand of Moses (2 Chron. 34:14). That Moses was the writer of these five inspired records is evident from the testimony of the books themselves (Deut. 31:9, 24), by Joshua (Joshua 1:7), by Samuel (1 Sam. 12:6-8), by David (1 Kings 2:3), by Solomon (1 Kings 8:53, 56), by Jehovah (2 Kings 21:8), by Josiah (2 Kings 23:2-3, 25) by Jehoiada (2 Chron. 23:16-18), by Hezekiah (2 Chron. 30:16), by Ezra (Ezra 7:6), by Nehemiah (Neh. 13:1), by Daniel (Dan. 9:11-13), by Malachi (Mal. 4:4), by Christ (John 5:45-47), by Peter (Acts 3:22-26), by Stephen (Acts 7), by Paul (1 Cor. 9:9), by all the Jewish writers, ancient and modern, and by the Jewish nation in all ages, by apostates as Mahomet and Julian, by heathen writers as Longinus and Tacitus. Yet in the face of this overwhelming testimony, Divine, Christian, Jewish, and Heathen, men will be found bold enough and bad enough to impugn the authority of the Pentateuch, and deny, too, its Mosaic authorship!

The magnificent conclusion to the blessing of the Tribes (Deut. 33:26-29) forms a perfectly beautiful and fitting close to the pen of inspiration by the hand of Moses. The first eight verses of the concluding chapter of Deuteronomy were probably written by Joshua, and the last four verses by an utterly unknown hand, perhaps by Ezra, the editor and compiler of the Old Testament. This last chapter of the Pentateuch (Deut. 34) is, however, as fully inspired as the first chapter (Gen. 1), and we may again remark that the question of authorship in no wise touches the fact of inspiration: "all Scripture is given by inspiration of God."

The next group of sacred writings is from Joshua to Esther, twelve books in our Bibles, but reckoned by the Jews as six.

Joshua (the Lord's Salvation) comprises a period of from twenty-five to thirty years; the first twenty-two chapters cover a period of about eight years. It has been gathered by some from the frequent use of the third person that not Joshua, but a contemporary and eye-witness was the writer of the book. But it must be remembered that it was not an unfrequent occurrence on the part of an inspired writer, both to speak and write in the third person (see Ezra 7). Jewish tradition ascribes the authorship of the whole to Joshua save the last five verses which were evidently written after the death of the "Saviour" of Israel, as the name Joshua imports. Jesus, son of Sirach, the writer of Ecclesiasticus about 250 B.C., calls Joshua the successor of Moses in prophecies. Probably one of the elders who out-lived Joshua added these supplementary verses, as also the record of certain transactions which occurred some time after the death of Joshua (Joshua 15:16-19 comp. with Judges 1:12-15; Joshua 19:47 with Judges 18).

Judges. According to generally accepted Jewish tradition, Samuel was the writer of this book. The remark, "In those days there was no king in Israel," four times repeated (Judges 17:6; Judges 18:1; Judges 19:1; Judges 21:25) would show that the book was written after the establishment of Monarchy in Israel, but before the capture of Jerusalem and destruction of the Jebusites by David (for this compare Judges 1:21, with 2 Sam. 5:6-9). The administration of the thirteen Judges from Othniel to Samson embraced a period of about three hundred years. The last five chapters form an important appendix which must be placed historically at a very early period of the book. The reference to Phinehas (Judges 20:28) would prove this. This supplementary part discloses the moral condition of the people — one of lawlessness, anarchy, and idolatry.

Ruth, beauty. From the allusion to a then old custom in Israel "concerning redeeming and concerning changing" (Ruth 4:7), and the historical account of David's genealogy (Ruth 4:17-22), we gather that the book was written certainly not earlier than the accession of David to the throne of Israel. Probably Samuel was the writer. The counsels of God as to the millennial blessing of the Jew and of the land are disclosed in this typical book of history. Ruth is the connecting link between the times of the Judges and the establishment of royalty in Israel.

Books of Samuel

1 Samuel This book covers a period of about one hundred years, from the birth of Samuel to the death of Saul. The first twenty-four chapters only were written by the prophet (compare 1 Chron. 29:29 with 1 Sam. 25:1); the remaining chapters, with the whole of the second book, were probably written by the prophets Gad and Nathan. This is also according to ancient Jewish tradition preserved in the Talmud. Samuel was the first of the regular prophetic order (Acts 3:21).

The main subjects of the book show the connection between God's great ordinances of priesthood, prophecy, and royalty, and the utter failure of man in maintaining them as means of blessing. The priest met failure under the law; the prophet recalled the people to their obedience to the law; while the king was set to firmly maintain and vindicate the authority of the law.

2 Samuel. Here we have unfolded the history and reign of David for about forty years. First we have his reign over Judah at Hebron for seven and a half years, then his glorious reign over all Israel in Jerusalem for the remainder of the probationary period, forty years. These books in the ancient Hebrew formed but one. In the Septuagint and Vulgate and in the subtitle of our English Bibles, they are spoken of as 1st and 2nd Books of Kings.

Books of Kings.

1 Kings details the public history of the kingdom, but more especially that of Israel after the disruption of the united kingdom. The glory of Solomon's reign for forty years, and its sorrowful decline, form an instructive page of Jewish history.

2 Kings historically traces the kingdom from the conclusion of the Elijah ministry till the subversion of the kingdom of Judah and destruction of Jerusalem by the Chaldeans in the year 588 B.C. It also records the downfall of the kingdom of Israel or of the ten tribes, and the deportation of the king, princes, and people to Assyria, which took place 130 years previous to the Chaldean attack upon Jerusalem. The decline, idolatry and ruin of both kingdoms are the subjects of the book. The previous book covers a period of about 126 years; this about 300 years.

These books form but one in the Hebrew canon. In the Septuagint, Vulgate, and titles of our English Bibles they are spoken of as the third and fourth books of Kings; consequently, these kingdom records are a continuation of the history contained in the books of Samuel. The Jews assign the authorship to Jeremiah, giving as reason that the last chapter of that prophet covers the same ground as the concluding section of 2nd Kings (2 Kings 24:18-25). We consider it much more probable that Ezra was the inspired historian of these kingdom histories, which were written during the captivity, and probably in the reign of Evil-Merodach, king of Babylon (2 Kings 25:27).

Books of Chronicles.

In 1 Chronicles the inspired historian — probably Ezra — portrays David not as the man (1 Sam.), nor as the king (2 Sam.), but especially in those circumstances where he stands out pre-eminently as the type of the Lord in the early period of the millennium; hence the grave faults of David, as his adultery, etc., are omitted. Grace and glory shine throughout, and David is everywhere, and made everything of.

2 Chronicles contains the history of David's house, prominently noticing after Solomon, the reigns of the godly and pious Jehoshaphat, Hezekiah, and Josiah. Here, too, the sins of Solomon are entirely omitted. The sovereign grace of God is impressed on these Chronicle records with an indelible pen.

These books constitute but one book in the Hebrew; called by the Jews "words or acts of the days," i.e. journals or diaries, rendered chronicon by Jerome and with us chronicles from the Latin Vulgate. The title by the Septuagint Paraleipomenon, "things omitted," is a most objectionable one. The special design of these books is manifestly of God and as worthy of its Divine Author as any other portion of Holy Writ. The close of the Babylon captivity is indicated more than once, and moreover is regarded as a past historical fact (1 Chron. 6: l5). The closing verses (2 Chron. 36:22-23) constitute the opening words of the book of Ezra, in which the history contained in the Chronicles is continued. Ezra therefore may safely be regarded as the writer and compiler of the Chronicles, and the time at or during the restoration to Palestine. In the Hebrew canon these books stand last in order. The books of Chronicles cover the same ground and time as the books of Kings, while having a special character of their own. The first nine chapters contain divine genealogical records from Adam, and which enabled the returned remnants from the Captivity to verify their various Jewish claims.

Ezra (help) covers a period of about eighty years, and records the doings, the work and the worship of the Judah remnants who returned to Jerusalem from the Chaldean exile. The distinguished ecclesiastical historian and ready scribe whose name is attached to this book has ever been highly venerated amongst the Jews, and is generally regarded as the inspired editor and compiler of the Old Testament. When, where, and by whom this book was written are questions easily answered — after the return from the Babylon captivity, in Palestine, and by Ezra. The change from the first to the third person, as in chaps. 7, 10, in nowise affects the authorship; John the Apostle habitually does so in his Gospel. Similar instances might be adduced from Jeremiah, Ecclesiastes, and elsewhere. Yet Professor Smith (in his Lectures on the Old Testament in the Jewish Church, page 321) says, "One asks for proof that any Hebrew ever wrote of himself in the third person." Is human learning to be trusted in the things of God? What is man in presence of these Divine and imperishable records? The books of Ezra and Nehemiah anciently formed but one work; they are still spoken of by Roman Catholic writers as the 1st and 2nd books of Esdras. There are two portions of this book written in the Syriac or Aramean language — that spoken in Babylon and Assyria — viz., Ezra 4:8 to 6:18; and Ezra 7:12-26.

Nehemiah (whom the Lord comforts). The administration of Nehemiah, "the Tirshatha" (Persian title, meaning governor) over Judea lasted about thirty-six years. The rebuilding of the city and generally the civil condition of the returned Jewish remnants are the main subjects of this the last historical book of the Old Testament, written about 420 B.C. The Temple and the ecclesiastical state of things are characteristic of Ezra. The one book is thus the counterpart of the other. Work and worship are marked features of Ezra, while work and conflict are as distinctly characteristic of Nehemiah.

The commission granted to Nehemiah anent the rebuilding of the city and reconstruction of the civil polity according to Moses, recorded in Nehemiah 2, marks the commencement of the seventy weeks or 490 years of Daniel's celebrated prophecy (Dan. 9:25). The book was written by Nehemiah (Neh. 1:1), after his return from the court of Persia (Neh. 13:6); in Greek and Latin Bibles it is called the "second book of Ezra."

Review of the Sacred Books from Genesis to Nehemiah.

Now, dear Christian reader, having got to the historical close of the Old Testament, in which we have the sum of all history as connected with the Jews and as bearing upon the glory of Christ, let us briefly review the steps of this wonderful journey. As creatures, we necessarily commence with the enquiry — What about creation? Who created? What, too, are the salient features of the early ages of the world? We get a full and Divine answer in the book of Genesis. What next commands our attention? All nature is disturbed; there is agony in the depths and in the heights. Here hearts are broken, tears are shed, and a seething mass of human misery and sin calls aloud for redemption from Satan's grasp and slavery; yea, and from God's judgment, too, righteously pressing upon the ruined sinner. God in holiness and righteousness provides redemption in the person and by the work of His beloved Son — the grand theme of Exodus.

Now, by sacrifice and priest, we enter the sanctuary of God — most holy and blessed presence — and worship Him who has thus fitted us to bow before Him; there you have Leviticus. Next comes the wilderness, with its testings, trials, and services, where, too, the faithless hearts of the redeemed are exposed amidst the circumstances of life; where man is broken, humbled and proved, but where, in presence of sorrow and daily need, the heart of God is told out; these are the lessons of the wilderness book — Numbers. God created worlds, and so displayed His power (Genesis). He gave His Son to die, and so expressed His love (Exodus). He has counted the hairs of our heads, thus manifesting His infinite care (Numbers).

Then comes the practical ground of blessing for the saint. Let no one say, "It is enough; I am dead, and risen with Christ, seated in the heavenlies in Him." Your path through this world, your ways, conduct and practical enjoyment of your heavenly place are dependent upon and are to be regulated by the written word of God, as the book of Deuteronomy most clearly shows. Then comes conflict with wicked spirits (not with doubts or fears) in heavenly places — the principalities and powers who, under Satan, unceasingly labour to spoil the Christian's enjoyment of heaven and heavenly things; of this Joshua is the typical witness. Now we pass on to enquire: Has the Church maintained her heavenly standing, testimony, and hope? Has her walk on earth answered to her heavenly calling? The dark clouds of unbelief have covered Israel's sky. Judges is proof of this, as also figuring the yet darker close of the Church's earthly sojourn (2 Timothy).

But God, ever mindful of His people, has laid the roots of time and eternal blessing, for Israel and the Church, in the Son of His love. Christ, the Christ of God, our well-known and loved One, is the mighty Redeemer, the Elimelech [Boaz?] in whom is lodged the sure and unfailing counsels of God, whatever the failure on man's part, and this is unfolded in the book of Ruth. Now, God's three great ordinances of blessing for man, for Israel, but according to their responsibility, are next developed. Priesthood in Eli; prophecy in Samuel, and kingly power in Saul, each in turn breaks down; for what is man but a broken cistern, a leaking vessel? such are the subjects and truths of 1 Samuel. But all is stable and enduring in Christ, and so the typical David (beloved), Jehovah's elect, maintains the glory of God, and secures blessing, combining the regal, prophetic, and priestly glories, characteristic of the Messiah and millennial times — 2 Samuel.

Next follows the peaceful and glorious reign of Solomon (peaceable), foreshadowing the blessed reign of Christ with His heavenly saints, and their dwelling with Him in their Father's house (John 14:2); for here the Temple is seen as typical of heavenly scenes and persons, without "a veil" and without "an altar." Neither distance to God, nor approach to God, as signified by the veil and altar, can apply to a people already brought to God, and whose place is prepared for them in the Father's house. These and other lessons are typically taught us in 1 Kings. Then the kingdom history of Israel is pursued down to the Assyrian and Babylonian captivities — a history fraught with instruction and of deepening interest to the saint on whom the ends of the world or ages are come — 2 Kings. If we have had the public history of the kingdom in the previous books, we hare now the inner history — God's grace and sovereign call — blessedly presented in these genealogical records of Jehovah's earthly elect people, and the earthly side of the millennium, in connection with Solomon; all this is prefigured in 1 Chronicles. God will have an earthly people, with whom He will put Himself in relationship in millennial glory and blessing, as the throne and temple of Solomon here bear witness. The Chronicles account of the Temple, with its "veil" and "altar," respect an earthly people, who will need the altar of approach. In fine, we have Solomon's throne and temple, in their aspect toward Israel and man, as the main theme of 2 Chronicles.

But the fine gold becomes dim, and the flower fades, and all flesh is grass, and so the kingdom glory is exchanged for captivity in Babylon. Again, however, God works, and a remnant, chastened and broken in spirit, return "together as one man to Jerusalem." The "altar" and the "word" — worship and obedience — then characterised the returned people of Judah. Do they morally mark off the present saints of God from the professing mass around? Of this and other themes and subjects we are instructed in Ezra. This is fitly followed by the hearty service and freewill offerings of the remnant, who are then left in their land under Gentile protection — left to wait in patience for the coming in of the Messiah, in whom their hopes were placed. Thus we are brought to the fitting conclusion — the last historical book of the Old Testament being Nehemiah.

Esther (star) comprises a period of about twenty years. We utterly reject the thought advanced by some, that this book is a mere compilation from the Persian records — a page of eastern romance — on the ground that the name of God does not once occur in it. There is a Divine reason for such an important omission. It will be remembered that only a small portion of the nation availed themselves of the edict of Cyrus, granting permission to the Jews to return to the land. The mass of the people were indifferent to Jehovah and His interests, and did not choose to avail themselves of the offer. Yet God watched over them, but secretly, because of their state, thus withholding the very mention of His name.

The scenes of this book come in historically between chaps. 6 and 7 of the book of Ezra. We believe on internal evidence that the book was written by "Mordecai the Jew," and in the metropolis of the Persian Empire. But we would again observe that the questions of When, Where, and by Whom the books of Scripture were written are altogether irrespective of their inspiration and Divine character. The origin of the Jewish feast of Purim or of lots has its historical origin stated here — a feast yet observed and from time immemorial by the Jews. The Persian monarch Ahasuerus is the renowned Xerxes, whose history is so familiar to most readers of ancient history.

Job (treated with hatred). This is a book or poem in dramatic form upon the moral government of God, and consists of seventeen speeches, with an introduction in which Jehovah, Satan, and Job mainly figure (Job 1-3), and a weighty and instructive appendix, in which Jehovah and His broken-hearted servant alone appear (Job 38-41). The book is without dates, and hence not characteristically dispensational, nor is it at all prophetic. Volumes have been written to prove (as if that were possible) the non-existence of the patriarch, and that the book is merely a page of Arabian romance. Ezekiel among the prophets (Ezek. 14:14, 20), and James among the apostles (James 5:11), guarantee the life, trials, and death of Job, while Paul authenticates the Divine character of the book by citing from it, introducing the quotation with the usual formula "it is written" (1 Cor. 3:19, with Job 5:13).

{Here, in the book, is a portrait of John Wycliffe with the following notes: Born Spresswell, Yorkshire, about the year 1324. Died Lutterworth, Leicestershire, 31st Dec., 1384.

To John Wycliffe, entitled "The Morning Star of the Reformation," belongs the honour of giving to the English-speaking peoples a complete translation of the Sacred Scriptures in the Vernacular tongue, after fifteen years severe labour, and to him we owe more than to any one person, our English language, our English Bible, and our Reformed religion. In reply to the reproaches of his opponents, he gives this solemn assurance: "Let God be my witness, that before everything I have God's glory in my eye, and the good of the Church which springs out of reverence of Holy Scripture, and following the law of Christ."

On the reverse of the page is a facsimile of a section of Wycliffe's Bible with the following notes. John Wycliffe's translation of the Bible from the Latin Vulgate into English was made about 1380. Alternative renderings of different passages are underlined. The MS. one of the earliest in existence, is now in the British Museum. The portion illustrated above is Mark 15:33-41.}

The scenes of this book belong in point of antiquity to the patriarchal age this we gather from the following considerations: — Job must have been nigh a century old, if not more, when the Lord opened the controversy with Satan respecting His servant. The patriarch then had seven grown-up sons, for they had houses of their own, and three daughters, while after his trial he lived a hundred and forty years (chaps. 1, 42). Does not this long age conclusively point to a time, certainly not later, if not earlier than, the days of Abram? This is further confirmed by a reference to the earliest form of idolatry, that of the heavenly bodies (Job 31:26-27), the only kind mentioned in the book, and further by the frequency of the patriarchal title "the Almighty" occurring oftener than in any other book of Scripture. Job, too, like his contemporaries prior to the days of Moses, is seen in household priestly action (Job 1:5). According to many — Jews and Christians — Moses was the writer of the book; if so, it was probably written forty years at least before the Pentateuch, the former in the land of Midian (Ex. 1), and the latter subsequently on the plains of Moab (Deut. 31:22, 26).

The five books from Job to the Canticles constitute the third divisional title of the Old Testament, "the Psalms" (Luke 24:44); so termed because they record the exercises, feelings, sorrows, and emotions of the heart of man.

The Book of Psalms. This inspired collection of sacred songs, and of compositions of various character, has evidently the impress of God upon their arrangement. He selected them, gave them their present shape and form, gave one hundred and sixteen of them those untranslated headings or titles which are rarely read and still less understood. He gave to the whole collection its title, "The Book of Psalms" (Luke 20:42), and caused them to be numbered, too, for more easy reference, as "the Second Psalm" (Acts 13:33). The Psalms are inspired, and their arrangement is Divine. "Selah," that word of so frequent occurrence — about seventy times — signifies to pause or consider. Uniform tradition — Jewish and Christian — ascribes the compilation of the Psalms to Ezra on his return to Palestine after the Babylon-captivity. Human arrangement would have set the Psalms in chronological or historical order; but God has classified them in a manner befitting His glory. Whoever were the authors — and they are numerous (David, of course, principally) — the composition of the whole extended through a period of about a thousand years, commencing with Moses (Psalm 90) and ending with the return from Babylon (Psalm 137).

The Jews — ancient and modern — not only regarded the Psalms as divided into five books, ending respectively with Nos. 41, 72, 89, 106, 150, as a Divine arrangement, but also considered each book to correspond with the separate books of the Pentateuch, having the same distinguishing characteristics. We will in as few words as possible trace the parallelism.

The first book of Psalms (Nos. 1-41) stands in the same relation to the whole collection that Genesis does to the Bible, both books being introductory and in both are unfolded the counsels of God as to this earth. The second book (Nos. 42-72) brings in God as Redeemer, as in the former He is revealed as Creator; hence the future blessing and redemption of the people on the ground of sovereign grace alone — all being utter ruin on man's side — is the lesson as distinctly graven here, as it is in Exodus the second book of the Pentateuch. In the third book (Nos. 73-89) we have God made known as Sanctifier, and the whole nation set apart for God — the root idea in Sanctification. The "Sanctuary" and the "House" characterise these 17 psalms throughout as they do Leviticus, the third book of Moses. The fourth book (Nos. 90-106) commences with what has been termed "the funeral psalm of the wilderness" — No. 90. Here too we have the patriarchal title "God Almighty," faith's resource in wilderness circumstances, and "Most High" the millennial title so as to sustain the hopes of the pilgrim and journeying host. The frailty and mortality of man and of Israel are solemnly chanted in the opening of this series of 17 psalms. But we have also the righteous ground unfolded in the death of the Messiah, and the glory and eternity of His being (No 102), on which God will yet set His people in Canaan blessing, after the truths of death and resurrection have been practically learnt. And are not these the very truths and characteristics of the fourth book of Scripture — Numbers? There we behold the generation of Israel dying in the wilderness, there too we see the cross (Num. 21) man's only hope and refuge! there also we witness the testing of man. But why amplify, with the teachings of both books before our very eyes! The fifth book (Nos. 107-150) is a book of review, a book in which the moral element largely prevails. Here God in His character, ways, and works is unfolded in strains — sublime and rapturous. Is the correspondence to Deuteronomy difficult to perceive? Have you ever compared the song (Deut. 32) and blessing of Moses (Deut. 33) with the closing five Psalms? We consider therefore that the Jews had a Divine thought in holding that parallelism existed between the separate books of the Pentateuch with the separate books of the Psalms.

It will be observed that the first, second, and third books of the psalms end with the words, "Amen, and Amen"; while the fourth and fifth close with a "Hallelujah," or "Praise ye the Lord." The expressive note attached to the second book or 72nd Psalm, "The prayers of David, the son of Jesse, are ended," was probably the work of the inspired compiler. What more could be desired? Immanuel's land is filled with glory and the praise of the once despised Nazarene, the Man of sorrows, engages the heart and tongue of the millennial earth, for "daily shall He be praised." The last five psalms each begin with a "Hallelujah," and also close with it, while the last of the five is a "Hallelujah psalm" throughout.

The Great Hallelujah or Passover Hymn of the Jews consisted of that group from Nos. 113 to 118 inclusive. The first three were sung while the sacrificial lambs were being slain: the latter three were sung on the conclusion of the feast. Probably this second part, or Psalms 116-118, formed the hymn sung by the Lord and His apostles at the close of the celebration of the last Passover (Mark 14:26).

That interesting series of 15 psalms (Nos, 120-134) entitled Songs of Degrees, are supposed to have been sung by the males of Israel on the occasion of their journeys to Jerusalem to observe their three national and compulsory feasts (Deut. 16:16). These "songs of ascents" (not "degrees") imply Jerusalem's historical and moral elevation; see Ex.34:24; 1 Kings 12:27-28.

Jewish and Christian Divisions of the Book of Psalms.

Book 1 contains Psalms 1-41, ending with "Amen."

We have here the godly part of Judah — "the excellent of the earth," with whom Christ identified Himself in the historic past (Matt. 3), as He will by His Spirit in the future. To this remnant Jehovah reveals His counsels, and makes them the depository of His thoughts, hence the frequency of the covenant name Jehovah — about 270 times.

Book 2 contains Psalms 42-72, ending with "Amen."

Here the God-fearing Jews are prophetically viewed as suffering under the Beast or civil power of Rome (Rev. 12, 13; Dan. 7), but outside Jerusalem, which is governmentally given up to the Gentiles who wreak their vengeance on the ungodly Jews for the last half of Daniel's week, or three years and a half, hence the prominence given to the creatorial title God — about 200 times.

Book 3 contains Psalms 73-89, ending with "Amen."

Israel as a whole (not Judah only), has her history divinely sketched from her rise in Egypt as a nation till her Millennial glory — Jerusalem being fully owned. Before the nation's yet future acceptance (Ps. 73-83) God is the leading title throughout; after the nation's acceptance (Ps. 84-89) Jehovah is the much more frequent name.

Book 4 contains Psalms 90-106, ending with "Praise ye the Lord."

Here Christ is regarded as "the hope of Israel," and for His return they sigh and wait. The successive announcements of His coming for their deliverance and the overthrow of their enemies are celebrated in triumphant strains. As this involves the national restoration to the Divine favour, the covenant or relationship title is the one used — Jehovah — about 107 times.

Book 5 contains Psalms 107-150, ending with "Praise ye the Lord."

God's character, His ways, and works are here grandly celebrated in songs unrivalled for sublimity and poetic sweetness and fervour. Jehovah occurs about 260 times. The last psalm is one triumphant "Hallelujah" or "Praise ye the Lord." This division is neither prophetic nor historical as the others, but is distinctly moral in character.

In the first Psalm, the two parts of the nation are distinguished — the godly (verses 1-3), the ungodly (verses 4-6). In the second Psalm, the counsels of Jehovah respecting Christ as man and Messiah are declared. Thus these two Psalms are introductory to the whole collection, revealing the chief actors in the closing days.

The Book of Proverbs. The whole of these proverbs were spoken by Solomon, save those contained in the two last chapters. We may regard these wise principles and maxims as part of the three thousand uttered by the illustrious monarch of Israel (1 Kings 4:32), and as the fruit of that wisdom he asked from the Lord at the commencement of his reign (1 Kings 3:12); his name is introduced at the beginning of each of the three divisions of the book (see chapters 1, 10, 25), and which are here selected and arranged by inspiration of God. The compiler was probably one of the prophets living in the days of Hezekiah, if, indeed, that monarch himself did not do so; we know at least that his servants copied out a number of these proverbs (Prov. 25:1). We know nothing of Agur (Prov. 30:1), nor of King Lemuel (Prov. 31:1); their names alone have been handed down to posterity.

Ecclesiastes (the preacher). The opening words of the book are conclusive as to its authorship, "The words of the Preacher, the son of David, King in Jerusalem." The boundary of Solomon's horizon is the sun, beneath it all is pronounced "Vanity." Read the book, and you will say that it was evidently written by Solomon at the close of his reign, in the evening of his life; probably too in Jerusalem, at least in Palestine.

One class of critics boldly tell us that the book was not written by Solomon, but that some unknown author assumed the name, and personified the character, of Israel's wisest and richest monarch, because they have discovered that the style is not that of Solomon's, nor the circumstances in the book in accordance with his reign. "Knowledge puffeth up;" and so these wise men in their own conceit regard with a sneer and with supreme contempt the fact that God has settled the question of the authorship of the book (Eccles. 1:1), and further that it always held its present place in all Hebrew Bibles, and formed part of the Sacred Scriptures in the days of Christ and writers of the New Testament. We suppose, moreover, that the Jewish mind is quite as capable as any modern critic in estimating the value of differences in style and diction — of Hebrew writers especially; yet the Jews ancient and modern fail to see a difficulty in assigning the authorship to Solomon. As to style, the Holy Ghost has none of His own. He is free to use the style and character of any human vessel He sees fit. But enough, God has spoken (chap. 1:1), and we would reverently bow and implicitly believe.

The Song of Solomon. Solomon was not only a Preacher (Ecclesiastes) and a Moralist (Proverbs), but a Song-composer (Canticles). Of the 1005 Songs (1 Kings 4:32) written by Solomon, all have perished save this one which is styled by way of pre-eminence "The Song of Songs," unless we include in the number of 1005 the two Psalms 72 and 127 attributed to Solomon. The book was written in Palestine, probably Jerusalem, by Solomon in the early period of his reign, about 1014 B.C. Its typical application is to the Jew of the future; its moral bearing is all-important for the Christian now. This divine poem is in the form of a dialogue between Solomon, his spouse, and her companions. No doubt Solomon's marriage with the lovely Egyptian princess formed the historical ground on which is based the moral and prophetic teachings of the book. Some arrange it in seven portions, answering to the seven days of the Jewish marriage feast.

All Jews and Jewish writers in ancient times regarded the book as a sacred one, and it has always formed part of the Hebrew canon unquestioned till modern times. It also received the seal of the risen Lord as contributing its quota of testimony to Himself — His sufferings and glories (Luke 24:44).

The Prophets.

Prophecy and God's government of the earth, having Palestine as the land, Jerusalem, then Babylon, and again Jerusalem as city and centre, Judah or Israel as the people, and the glory of Christ as the object, form the ground-work and basis of the prophetic revelations contained in the books from Isaiah to Malachi. The Prophets are divided into "four greater" and "twelve minor prophets," Lamentations being included in the prophecies of Jeremiah. These books are so divided and termed because of the extent of their writings. Prophetic utterances and prophetic signs were generally communicated by "vision" (Isa. 6) or "word of the Lord" (Jer. 2:1).

{"The Hebrew word for a prophet is Nabi, which comes from a word signifying to boil up, and hence to pour forth words as under Divine inspiration." — Dr. Kitto.}

Isaiah (salvation of the Lord). This is the grandest, sublimest, and most comprehensive of the prophetical books; and because of its fulness of subjects and wide sweep of the prophetic future, occupying itself with the whole scene of God's purposes respecting Israel and the nations, is first in order in all Hebrew and English Bibles. If Isaiah lived to the close of Hezekiah's reign, then he must have worn the prophetic mantle for a period of at least sixty years, dating his introduction to the prophetic office from the last year of Uzziah's reign (Isa. 6). Being a Judah-prophet, and standing in high repute in the royal court, these magnificent prophecies were mainly uttered in Jerusalem. Jewish tradition asserts that the aged prophet, then about ninety years old, was "sawn asunder" during the reign of Manasseh, and that to protract his sufferings a wooden instrument was used for the cruel purpose. Many suppose that Heb. 11:37, "sawn asunder," refers to the barbarous martyrdom of our prophet. Isaiah too being their favourite prophet must have a royal parentage; so they tell us that Amoz the father of the prophet was a brother of king Amaziah. These traditions are not supported by a particle of evidence. We do not say they are false, neither can we affirm their truth.

This great prophecy is divided into two main portions, the first occupying Isa. 1 — 35, the second part consists of chaps. 40 to the end; the historical four chapters which divide the two great portions of the book are needful, as supplying the main subjects of the prophetic future. Now in this latter portion (Isa. 40 — 66) the prophetic intimations respecting Babylon and other nations are remarkably full, and have been fulfilled to the letter. Even Cyrus, the deliverer of the Jews from their Chaldean exile and the destroyer of Babylon, was prophetically appointed for the work, and surnamed about one hundred and fifty years before he was born (Isa. 44 and Isa. 45).

Here then our modern critics are on the horns of a dilemma. If this latter part of the prophecy be really the work of the "Evangelical Prophet," or of the "Fifth Evangelist," as some have termed Isaiah, then the authority of Holy Scripture is supreme, for God alone can reveal the future. But then this portion of Isaiah is an integral part of the book. How then can it be got rid of? Well, it is said that the last twenty-seven chapters were written after the events, and by Ezra, who is thus made the author of a stupidly arranged imposition. Can our denunciations of such unfounded suppositions be too scathing or severe?

When our Lord went into the synagogue at Nazareth, there was handed to him "the book of the prophet Esaias" (Luke 4:17-21). Ah! did the Lord of heaven and earth not know what our modern infidel scholars have found out, that only the first thirty-nine chapters in general constituted the book of Isaiah. He read a portion of Isa. 61, that is, one of the so-called spurious chapters, and when finished, He said "This day is this Scripture fulfilled in your ears." Was Christ reading, applying to the consciences of His hearers, and fulfilling what falsely professed to be written by Isaiah? But the theory is baseless, and absolutely false, for Paul, too, cites from the "great unnamed" author. The one to whom this absurd title is applied by certain German and English divines, was Isaiah to Paul (Rom. 10:20; Isa. 66) and Isaiah and Scripture to the Lord (Luke 4). Why these persistent efforts to set aside the historical Moses and the prophetic Isaiah? Just this, dear reader, that you may doubt everything and believe nothing. The full verbal inspiration of the Scriptures is the ground of all authority. Hold fast, then, the written word of God.

Jeremiah (exalted or established of the Lord). This is the second of the "greater prophets" — so called because of the largeness and extent of their written prophecies — the other two being Ezekiel and Daniel. Jeremiah was of priestly descent, his father being Hilkiah, one of the priests residing in the Levitical town of Anathoth, four miles north-east of Jerusalem. The name Hilkiah was a common enough one among the Jews, so we cannot say that the high priest of that name who found the copy of the law in the Temple was the father of our prophet.

Jeremiah was ordained a prophet to the nations before his birth, and was early called to the office (Jer. 1:5-7), which he occupied for the long period of forty-two years — about one hundred and thirty years after the call of Isaiah. Jeremiah uttered his predictions in and about the metropolis of Judea; then, on the capture of Jerusalem by the Chaldeans, among the people spared by the clemency of the Chaldean conqueror, and who, after the murder of Gedaliah, the governor of Judea, and in spite of the faithful remonstrances of the prophet, went down into Egypt (Jer. 43, 44), and nearly all perished there.

These prophecies, in our English Bibles, as also in the Hebrew, are arranged (by whom we cannot tell, probably by Ezra) without regard to chronological order. But whoever was the editor of Jeremiah's weeping prophecies, for almost "every letter is written with a tear, and every word is the sound of a broken heart" — especially so of the Lamentations — must have been divinely directed; for the moral order, and connection of the various prophecies to each other are evidently of God. In the Septuagint they are arranged chronologically. The last verse of the fifty-first chapter ends with "Thus far are the words of Jeremiah." The last chapter of the book is not written by Jeremiah, but is an historical appendix substantially the same as 2 Kings 24:18-20, 25; and equally given by inspiration of God, and needful in its place. The predictions of the prophet respecting Zedekiah, the last king of Judah, were fulfilled to the letter, as this historical appendix, probably written by Ezra, conclusively prove. It is only in this book, so far as we know, that the duration of the Chaldean kingdom is given, as also the duration of Judah's captivity in Babylon (Jer. 25:9-14; Jer. 29:10). Daniel was a devout student of these very prophecies, especially of those portions just referred to (Dan. 9:2). We may observe that Jer. 10:11 contains a message to the heathen written in their own language — the Aramean or Syriac.

The Lamentations. It is self-evident that this book is from the pen of Jeremiah. The Septuagint has the following passage: — "And it came to pass after that Israel was taken captive, and Jerusalem was laid waste, that Jeremiah sat weeping and lamented this lamentation over Jerusalem." These strains of anguish uttered over the success of the Chaldean attack upon Jerusalem, and the consequent desolation of city and people, are most touchingly expressed. The death of the godly Josiah (2 Chron. 35:24-25) was the immediate occasion of these strains of unrivalled pathos, as the last hope of Israel died in the death of the godly monarch.

The book originally constituted one work with the prophecies of Jeremiah. The structure of the book is worth noticing. The first, second, and fourth chapters each contain twenty-two verses, and are, in the original, arranged alphabetically according to the twenty-two letters of the Hebrew alphabet. The third chapter of sixty-six verses is also alphabetic in structure, only there are three verses to each letter. The fifth chapter consists of twenty-two verses, but is not similarly arranged. Several of the Psalms, as the 119th, etc., are constructed in like manner, proof of God's tender compassion for the feeble minds and failing memories of His poor people.

Ezekiel (may God support or strengthen). Jeremiah, Ezekiel, and Daniel were contemporary prophets; the two former were priests, while the latter was of the seed royal of Judah. Jeremiah prophesied amongst the poor of the people who were spared and left in the land through the mercy of the Chaldean conqueror, and afterwards in Egypt, whither the miserable remnant of the nation fled after the murder of Gedaliah the Babylonian governor of Judea. Ezekiel lifted up his voice, and by sign and word warned the exiled portion of Judah in the land of Mesopotamia, as also to considerable numbers of the ten tribes transported thither at an earlier period. Daniel interpreted the visions and dreams of the heathen monarch in Babylon itself, and there, too, were communicated to him those visions and prophecies which most of all concern the European and other Gentiles in relation to the Jews — past, present, and future.

The subversion of the kingdom of Judah and the deportation of her king, princes, priests, and people were effected by the Chaldeans on three separate occasions. In the year 599 B.C. Jehoiachin, second last king of Judah, after a brief reign of but three months, was taken captive along with the principal people of the land, including Ezekiel (2 Kings 24). Seven years previously Jehoiakim, with Daniel and other members of the royal family, had been removed to the proud and haughty court of the Gentile in Babylon. The third captivity (2 Kings 25) eleven years after the second, and eighteen years after the first, completed the ruin of Judah. Our prophet was located on the banks of the river Chebar, 400 miles from Babylon.

The most distinguished of the Judah exiles flocked again and again to the prophet's dwelling at Tel Abib (Ezek. 8:1; Ezek. 16:1; Ezek. 21:1; Ezek. 33), and there the burning and eloquent lips of the exiled seer and priest uttered the word of the Lord. The prophecies contained in the book were proclaimed during a period of twenty-two years (Ezek. 1:2), although the prophet's forced exile lasted twenty-seven years (Ezek. 29:17). Christ, Daniel, and Ezekiel are the only persons termed "Son of Man" in the Scriptures, the latter nearly one hundred times.

We do not agree with those who consider this book a difficult one to understand; in our judgment it is the reverse. The first twenty-four chapters contain chronologically-arranged prophecies bearing upon the Chaldean invasion of Judea and capture and sack of Jerusalem, 588 B.C. Then you have the destruction of those nations who participated in the attack or rejoiced in the ruin of Judah (Ezek. 25 — 32). Lastly, Israel herself and her future great enemy Gog, or the northern power (Russia), are judged, while particulars of the millennial temple and throne, and details of an interesting kind, occupy the closing chapters of the book (Ezek. 33 — 48). We know nothing certain of the death of the prophet; probably he died or was martyred in Egypt.

Daniel (God my judge). This prophet was taken to Babylon nearly twenty years before the final Chaldean attack upon Jerusalem and sack of the city; and, as he survived the captivity, which was seventy years, even to the third year of the reign of Cyrus, the founder of the Persian Empire (Dan. 10:1), he must have been taken captive when very young, and hence could not have shared the national guilt to any considerable extent; but this very consideration gives weight and solemnity to his confession of national sin (Dan. 9). From the setting aside of Jerusalem and substitution of Babylon as the centre of Divine government on the earth, we date "the times of the Gentiles," that is, until the Jew is again taken up in sovereign grace, the government of the earth has been handed over to the Gentiles. This government, exercised through the four successive Gentile monarchies, is the great subject of the book; that government, as also the combined history and prophecy respecting Jew and Gentile, will close at the introduction of the millennial kingdom of Christ.

It is an interesting circumstance that that portion of the book from Daniel 2:4 till the close of Daniel 7 is in the Syriac or Aramean language, that being the tongue spoken by the Babylonians and the Assyrians — the two powers employed in the captivity of all Israel. In that portion we have divinely sketched the rise, progress and doom of Gentile power. Thus not Hebrew, but Syriac is the selected tongue, so that the Gentiles could read for themselves, and were thus left without excuse as to the exercise of the governmental power divinely entrusted to them.

Style of the Prophets, and Classification of the Twelve Minor Books.

The style and character of the four greater prophets present striking contrasts. Isaiah is grand, Jeremiah is tearful, Ezekiel is energetic, Daniel is calm. When the Spirit of God selects any instrument to accomplish His work, the individuality of the chosen vessel is in fullest accord with the Spirit's inspiration. The "several ability" of those to whom "talents" are entrusted is ever recognised (Matt. 25:15).

By Jewish arrangement the twelve minor prophets were grouped in one volume. Thus in the enumeration of the sacred books by Josephus and others, and in all ancient catalogues, they are classed together, and cited from, as one book. The Hebrew arrangement of the first six minor prophets differs from the Septuagint. The order in which they stand in our English Bibles follows the Hebrew, which is the moral order. In the Septuagint they are represented thus — Hosea, Amos, Micah, Joel, Obadiah, Jonah, which is not strictly chronological.

We would classify those twelve books under three divisions. 1st. Those which relate to the overthrow of the kingdom of Israel by Assyria, and of Judah by Babylon. 2nd. Those which unfold the judgment of the Gentiles. 3rd. Those which relate to the people restored from the Babylon captivity. Under No. 1 we place the books of Hosea, Joel, Amos, Micah, Habakkuk, Zephaniah, six books in all. Under No. 2 we have the three books of Obadiah, Jonah, and Nahum; while under No. 3 we place Haggai, Zechariah, and Malachi, which along with Ezra and Nehemiah are termed "the Books of the Restoration."

We may here add that the sixteen prophetical books from Isaiah to Malachi (Lamentations included in Jeremiah) are, in our English Bibles, arranged in the main in chronological order; the first four are strictly chronological, although preceded by some of the lesser prophets. But what is of more value to us, and manifests moreover the hand of God, is the moral arrangement of these writings. The last historical book of the Old Testament is Nehemiah, while the last prophetic book is Malachi. Thus from Genesis to Nehemiah you have sixteen books, the sum of Old Testament history; while from Isaiah to Malachi you have sixteen books, the sum of Old Testament prophecy.

Hosea (deliverance). From the first verse of the book we gather that Hosea must have prophesied for a period of about sixty years. We cannot with certainty say whether the prophet resided in Samaria or Judea; probably the former, as Israel or the kingdom of the ten tribes is more especially the burden of these prophecies. But while Judah and Israel for judgment, as also for millennial blessing, are directly regarded in this book, it is to be observed that the Gentiles are entirely passed over both for judgment and blessing, save perhaps in Hosea 1:10, which study and compare with Rom. 9:24-26.

Joel (the Lord is at hand). In this book we have no historical data or chronological notes whatever to guide us as to the place or time when the prophecy was uttered. But judging from the internal character of the book, and also from the fact that the closing words of our prophet (Joel 3:16) are the opening words of Amos (Amos 1:2), we gather that Joel uttered "the word of the Lord" in Judea, perhaps Jerusalem, and further, as preceding Amos, must have been one of the earliest of the Judah prophets, probably about 800 B.C. The then present circumstances of Judah, the harvests utterly destroyed, the sacrifices withheld from the house of the Lord, while famine and desolation wrapped the land and all classes of the people in mourning owing to the dreadful ravages of countless swarms of locusts and other insects, form the text on which Joel enlarges and announces "the day of the Lord."

Judah and Jerusalem — people and city — are specially remembered for millennial blessing (Joel 3:1, 20). "I will pour out my Spirit upon all flesh" (Joel 2:28) is a blessed intimation that grace will overstep the narrow limits of Judaism in the happy years at hand. The descriptive powers of our prophet (see Joel 2) are unequalled by anything found in Scripture or elsewhere.

Amos (bearer). This prophet was a Jew residing in Tekoa, a small town six miles south-east of Bethlehem, and followed the very humble occupation of a herdsman and gatherer of sycamore fruit (Amos 7). From thence he was called to utter "the word of the Lord" in Israel, especially in Bethel, the southern seat of idolatry in the kingdom of the ten tribes (1 Kings 13). The charming simplicity of the prophet's account of himself and of his peasant life, his striking images and metaphors drawn from nature and the animal creation, with which he was familiarly acquainted, are beautiful and very striking. The native eloquence of the shepherd of Tekoa characterises the book throughout.

Judgment upon the Gentiles in external relationship to Israel — as Damascus, Syria, Tyrus, and the Moabite nations bordering upon the land of Israel — is the burden of the first eighteen verses of the book. Then the prophet denounces the wickedness and hypocrisy of Israel, even under the splendid reign of Jeroboam II., and predicts her captivity to Assyria, and that of Judah to Babylon, announced in language and symbols both striking and original. The last five verses of the prophecy are beautiful, and we are not surprised at their frequent quotation by prophetic students in describing millennial blessedness. Amos was contemporary with Hosea (Hosea 1:1), and probably followed Jonah. The latter may have lived in the early part of Jeroboam's reign, and Amos in the latter part.

Obadiah (servant of the Lord). This is the shortest of the prophetical books; and unless we regard Obadiah as an historian, writing after the capture and sack of Jerusalem by the Chaldeans, 588 B.C. (actively assisted by the Edomites who exulted in Judah's overthrow), we must place him among the early prophets and discard the date of the accomplished chronologist Usher, viz., 587 B.C. The burden of this book is the doom of Edom, a people proverbial for their pride, wisdom, power; and whose rage against the people of Jehovah's choice found vent at the Chaldean destruction of Jerusalem. Alas! the Babylonians needed not the encouraging cry of the Edomite in wreaking their vengeance upon the poor Jew: "Rase it, rase it even to the foundation thereof" (Ps. 137:7).

The land of Edom is about a hundred miles in length, lying between the Dead Sea and the eastern arm of the Red Sea, and strong in its natural strength and rocky position, and is prophetically destined to be the scene of one of the most appalling judgments noted in the Divine records (Isa. 63:1-6). Here the character, doings, and thoroughness of the overwhelming desolation yet awaiting Edom by the hand of conquering Judah are calmly and sternly announced. The prophecy was probably uttered in Judea, and at a very early period of Jewish regal history.

Jonah (dove). It was probably because of the Gentile mission to which Jonah was separated, and which he so disliked, that the ecclesiastical leaders of Judah conveniently forgot that a prophet had arisen out of Galilee (John 7:52). Jonah was born in Gath-hepher, in the northern part of Palestine, and was probably a contemporary of Elisha, or at least immediately succeeded him. This piece of information we glean from 2 Kings 14:25-27, where we are told that the enlargement of Israel's sea coasts wrested from the Syrians was according to a previous prediction by Jonah. This consideration, as also the internal character and contents of the book itself, warrant us in assigning a very early date indeed to this prophecy of judgment upon proud and haughty Nineveh, the capital of the Assyrian kingdom and the mistress of the earth. It is perhaps the earliest prophetical book we have.

The personal history of the prophet occupies the larger portion of the book, while the remainder affords a highly instructive narrative of the Lord's governmental ways with nations as exemplified in the threatened judgment at Nineveh, its repentance, and the suspension of the stroke for a lengthened period. The book was probably written about 826 B.C., and either in Palestine or near Nineveh. Some Jewish writers absurdly suppose Jonah to have been the son of the widow of Sarepta.

Micah (who is like unto the Lord?). This prophet was contemporary with Isaiah, Hosea, and Amos: see the first verse of each of the books of these prophets. Micah is termed "the Morasthite" from Moresheth-Gath, a small town in southern Judea, not far from Jerusalem. There is not in this book such a range of subjects or comprehensiveness of treatment as in Isaiah, yet Micah in some respects resembles his great contemporary. Both specially regard Israel's political foe and external enemy in the future Jewish crisis, namely, "the Assyrian" or "king of the north;" and both predict millennial blessedness in the same eloquent terms (Isa. 2:2-4; Micah 4:1-3).

Jeremiah was not afraid that his credit as a prophet would suffer by referring expressly to Micah (Jer. 26:18) as did Daniel in a latter day to Jeremiah (Dan. 9:2), and Amos to Joel (Amos 1. 2). There are few original characters in the world, and we above all others should beware of the spirit of independency, for God has set us in "one body" and constituted us members one of another, and thus mutually dependent; let us not hesitate, therefore, to own frankly indebtedness to each other.

In the prophecies contained in this book, Jerusalem the religious, and Samaria the proud, capitals of Judea and Israel, have special judgment meted out to them; these predictions have been fulfilled to the very letter. Zion was to be "ploughed as a field" (Micah 3:12), and Samaria made "as a heap of the field" (Micah 1:6). The former prediction was verified by Turnus Rufus, who in obedience to imperial orders passed the Roman plough over Zion after its destruction in the year 70 A.D.; while the latter prediction, in its accomplishment, has been witnessed to by Dr. Keith, M'Cheyne, and others, who beheld the stones of Samaria gathered in heaps.

Here Jehovah is seen coming out of His place, the temple; and so the storm of Divine wrath sweeps through the land of Immanuel, then the land of Assyria, and finally spends itself upon the near and distant heathen. But glory will break for Israel and the nations in those coming days so grandly foretold by Isaiah, weepingly yearned for by Jeremiah, and energetically predicted by Ezekiel. Palestine (probably the southern kingdom — Judea) would be the scene where, and 750 B.C. about the date when, these prophecies were uttered.

Nahum (consolation). The prophets Jonah and Nahum were Galileans, and both had Nineveh as the burden of their testimony. In the former, however, the character and doings of the prophet form an integral part of the book, while in the latter the character of God is unfolded in language unrivalled for its sublimity.

The short, abrupt, bold and elegant sentences in describing Nineveh, her lengthened siege of two years and the manner of her capture, make the book a very interesting one indeed. We need not the pen of the historian to trace for us the particulars connected with the destruction of that ancient city which with its rival Babylon is doomed to perpetual desolation. A more graphic account of the pride, cruelty, and idolatry of Nineveh, of its size and its resources, and finally of the mode of its capture by the combined forces of the Medes and Babylonians, with the surprise of its king and nobles, cannot be produced, and positively makes the reader independent of the human historian. Nineveh was to be destroyed by fire and water. The travellers Botta, and Layard, in their interesting discoveries in the palaces and ruins of the city, found considerable quantities of charcoal and half-burnt wood. Here we have God's account of things, surely preferable infinitely to man's judgment and his generally faulty record of things and persons.

Nahum prophesied in Palestine, and nearly a century and a half after Jonah his predecessor, in testimony to and of Nineveh.

Habakkuk (an embrace). We have nothing in Scripture as to the personal history or parentage of this prophet, but plenty of tradition as to both, which is not of much value. It has been remarked that Jeremiah's great prophecy has been divided into two parts — the destruction of Jerusalem forming the break between the two — which we might term the moral and prophetic, and further, that Habakkuk takes up the moral side of the book of Jeremiah, as Zephaniah does the prophetic side.

We have neither note of time nor exact historical data as to when or where this prophecy was uttered and written. We should judge, however, from Habakkuk 1:5-6, which intimate the Chaldean invasion of Judea, that the vision of Habakkuk (Hab. 1 and 2) and his sublime and fervent prayer (Hab. 3) considerably preceded the rise of the Chaldeans, and that the southern kingdom of Palestine, probably Jerusalem, was the scene of the "vision" and "prayer." If Nahum announces the judgment of the proud Assyrian who destroyed the kingdom of Israel, Habakkuk on the other hand predicts the utter ruin of the Chaldeans, who in their day of power destroyed the kingdom of Judah. The distinctly moral character of the book, and the prophet's identification with the people in their confession of sin, and then in their turning to Jehovah and hoping in His mercy, are truths of priceless value to every true servant of God whose desire is to serve Him, His saints, and church.

It will be observed that the word "Selah," meaning to pause or consider, occurs three times in the third chapter, as also about seventy times in the book of Psalms. This chapter also contains other points of resemblance to the Psalms. The character of the Chaldean power (Hab. 1) and the five woes pronounced upon it (Hab. 2) are foretold with an exactness, force of language, and striking imagery peculiar to our prophet. We heartily endorse the encomium of another who says "it were difficult to find words to set forth adequately the exalted claim and peculiar merits of this high minstrel of grief and joy, of desolateness and hope, of scorn and tenderness."

Zephaniah (whom the Lord protects). The pedigree of this prophet is carefully given for four generations, as also the period of his prophecy — the reign of the godly Josiah, the last pious king of Judah (Zeph. 1:1). Both Zephaniah and Habakkuk were contemporary with Jeremiah. The time and place of these predictions are thus easily ascertainable. It was in the land of Judea, and about 630 B.C., or a few years later when Zephaniah uttered his "Thus saith the Lord" — the usual formula of the prophets.

The references to preceding prophecies by Isaiah, Amos, and Joel, are numerous in so short a prophecy. The harmony and entire agreement in the prophetic books of the Old Testament are well worth consideration, as evidencing that one Divine mind and purpose characterise all Scripture. The great themes of all the prophets are iniquity, judgment, and glory, and Zephaniah finely descants on these subjects. In the main the burden of his prophecy is the "great day of the Lord," the day of Jehovah's anger — an expression common to all the prophets, and signifying the future period of judgment. It is, therefore, pre-eminently a book of judgment, but glory triumphs in the end. The judgments predicted by this prophet are not only general and universal in their range and extent, but are also minute and particular — none escape. Thy land and people, O Immanuel, will yet be the objects of Thy joy, and the rest of Thy love!

Haggai (festive). The three last books of the Old Testament have a peculiar character impressed upon them. They contain predictions of judgment, but are also exceedingly rich in their anticipations of that happy future awaiting Israel and the earth. They were uttered in presence of the remnants returned to Judea from the Babylonian captivity, and in view of their then moral condition. Man's utter failure and inability to respond to God's presentation of grace or claim of law, with Jehovah's tender and yearning love over His guilty people, are truths graven in these books, or "Prophets of the Restoration," as they are termed by some of our American Bible students.

Haggai and Zechariah greatly encouraged the people to resume the building of the Temple, which had been interrupted for about fourteen years (Ezra 5:1) by a decree from Artaxerxes, the Persian monarch, forbidding the work (Ezra 4). The energetic and faithful remonstrances of our prophet and of his able coadjutor Zechariah, had the desired effect, and the people recommenced the work before Darius reversed the decree of his predecessor and confirmed the commandment of Cyrus. What about the unchanging laws and unalterable decrees (Dan. 6:15) of the Persian realm in presence of God and of His power? When God is working with His people, and they are in fellowship with Him, what is man? Ah! we have omnipotent strength and infinite love to count upon — the strength for our weakness and the love for our need. The living God is Himself the resource of His people.

The book contains four messages, termed in each case, "the word of the Lord" delivered in Jerusalem in the second year of Darius Hystaspes, 522 B.C., and within a period of about three months.

Zechariah (whom the Lord remembered). This prophet commenced his prophetic service two months later than his contemporary and colleague Haggai (compare Zech. 1:1 with Haggai 1:1). The latter is simply termed "Haggai the prophet," whereas the father and grandfather of our prophet are expressly named. We gather from a comparison of the first verse with Neh. 12:4, and Ezra 5:1, that Zechariah was of priestly descent, as were Jeremiah, Ezekiel, Ezra, and perhaps Habakkuk. We would direct special attention to the minute accuracy of the dates in the books of Zechariah and Haggai. They conclusively mark God's recognition of the sovereign power granted to the Gentiles, and under which His people were placed till the government of the world shall be once again exercised through the Jew, and from Jerusalem, the city of the Great King.

The prophecies contained in this book are mainly respecting Judah as a people, and Jerusalem as a city in their judgment, as also in their blessed future, but in special relation to the Gentiles. The eight visions seen in one night (chaps 1-6) from the Persian power, under Cyrus (the rider among the myrtle trees, but figuring Christ, Zech. 1:8) till the temple and throne are set up in Jerusalem in millennial glory, present the great facts connected with Israel and her relation to the imperial powers. In the rest of the book numerous details of a deeply interesting kind, bearing upon the millennial future, are given; moral truths, prophecies of and about the Messiah, and physical facts accompanying the Lord's descent to Mount Olivet for Jewish deliverance, make up a record of undying interest to prophetic students (Zech. 14).

Malachi. Significantly, the name Malachi means "My Messenger" (Mal. 3:1). He prophesied about a hundred years after Haggai and Zechariah. What now remains for God to do in view of Israel's moral condition, since His claims are treated with proud contempt, His service a weariness, and His worship a lifeless form? If Jehovah's last pleadings of love fall upon the cold insensible ears and hearts of these returned remnants, save upon a few (a remnant out of the remnant who originally returned from the captivity, Mal. 3:16-18), what can God now do to His degenerate vine but send "His messenger" before He comes personally in judgment. We have the coming of Jesus in grace referred to (Mal. 3:1), and His coming in judgment (Mal. 4:5). The opening words of our prophet are quoted by Paul (Rom. 9:13), while the closing utterances are cited by Jesus (Matt. 17:11-12). We close these remarks upon the Old Testament in the earnest hope that the reader will lay deeply to heart the solemn lessons and truths graven on these last books of the former revelation.

The Apocrypha.

The Hebrew Bible or Old Testament was completed with Malachi. Then about 284 B.C. the Septuagint or Greek translation of the Sacred Hebrew Books was begun, and finished about 130 years before Christ. But long after the Old Testament was complete in Hebrew, certain books were written by Jews in Alexandria and elsewhere — dates and names of authors being uncertain — which were bound up with the Septuagint. These books are termed The Apocrypha. They are useful as connecting links of history between the Testaments, but are utterly destitute of Divine authority, nor do the books themselves claim to be inspired. The difference between the Apocrypha and the Hebrew Bible as to character, style, and subjects are patent even to a child.

The Apocrypha was first received as canonical by the Council of Trent, 1545, and is highly regarded by Roman Catholics throughout the world.

The following statements are important to remember:
1. No portion of the Apocrypha was written in Hebrew, but all in Greek, although by Jews, and never formed part of the Hebrew canon.
2. It was written more than a century after the completion of the Old Testament.
3. It was never regarded by the Jews or their writers as possessing the slightest claim to inspiration.
4. Neither the Lord nor Apostles ever cited from, or referred to, the Apocrypha.

The Holy Bible. — Old Testament Summary.

{Given in the book as a table. The book name, meaning, character, by whom written or compiled, and where and when written are given.}

Giving the name and meaning, character of the book, by whom written or compiled, where and when written.

Genesis, origin, Gen. 1:1.

Seed-plot of all Biblical subjects, principles, and relationships.

Moses, see John 5:46; John 7:22.

On the Plains of Moab, about 1452 B.C.

Exodus, departure.

Redemption; and the revelation of grace in the construction of the Tabernacle and its holy vessels.

Moses, see Luke 20:37 ; Rom. 9:15-17.

On the Plains of Moab, about 1452 B.C.

Leviticus, from the priestly tribe Levi.

God in the midst of the redeemed, and instructing in the truths of sacrifice and worship.

Moses, see Rom. 10:5; Matt. 8:4.

On the Plains of Moab, about 1452 B.C.

Numbers, from the numberings of Israel.

God numbering His redeemed, and their service and testings in the wilderness.

Moses, see John 3:14; Luke 2:22-24.

On the Plains of Moab, about 1452 B.C.

Deuteronomy, the law repeated.

God gathering the people, without the intervention of priest and levite, around Himself.
Their blessing in the land on the ground of obedience.

Moses, see Deut. 31; Acts 3:22.

On the Plains of Moab, about 1452 B.C.

Joshua, salvation of the Lord.

The accomplishment of Divine counsel (Ex. 3:8; Ex. 6:6-8).
Canaan the scene of blessing becomes thereby the place of conflict.

Joshua 24:26; Acts 7:45.

Canaan, about 1427 B.C.

Judges, Israel's deliverers and judges.

The covenant people forgetful of Jehovah; their sins and His signal deliverances.

Samuel, Jewish tradition.

Canaan, about 1100 B.C.

Ruth, beauty.

A typical outline of God's purposes respecting Israel.

Samuel, Jewish tradition.

Canaan, about 1100 B.C.

1 Samuel, asked of the Lord, 1 Sam. 1:20.

Israel's rejection of Jehovah as king; man's choice of a king, and its sorrowful consequences.

Samuel, Gad, and Nathan, 1 Chron. 29:29.

Canaan, about 1100 B.C.

2 Samuel, asked of the Lord, 1 Sam. 1:20.

The kingdom established in David according to Divine purpose.

Gad and Nathan, 1 Chron. 29:29.

Canaan, about 1100 B.C.

1 Kings, 2 Kings, from Israel's Kingdom history.

The public history of the kingdom, especially of the kings of Israel, of whom there were 19. Typical also of the heavenly part of Christ's millennial kingdom.

Ezra, According to Jewish Writers.

Babylon,about 588 B.C. Materials from whence these inspired books are compiled commenced

with the death of David and closed with the destruction of Jerusalem, 558 B.C.

1 Chronicles, 2 Chronicles, chronological accounts.

The public history of the kingdom, noting especially the sovereigns of Judah, of whom there were 20. Typical also of the earthly part of Christ's millennial kingdom.

Ezra, According to Jewish Writers.

Palestine, after the restoration, about 536 B.C., See 1 Chron. 6:15; also 2 Chron. 26:21-23.

Ezra, help.

Ecclesiastical history of the Judah-remnants returned from the Babylon captivity to Jerusalem.

Ezra 7:6.

Palestine, after the restoration, about 457 B.C.

Nehemiah, whom Jehovah comforts

Civil history of the Jews on their return from Babylon.

Nehemiah 1:1

Palestine, after the restoration, about 434 B.C.

Esther, Star

God's care, providentially exercised, towards His people, who elected to remain in Persia instead of returning under the edict of Cyrus.

Mordecai, Esther 9:20-32

Persia, about 509 B.C.

Job, persecuted

A book upon the moral government of God. Job pious, and the sum nearly of human righteousness, tested in the Divine presence, and found wanting.

Moses (?)

Land of Midian (Ex. 2:15), about 1552 B.C. (?)

Book of Psalms, i.e., of Sacred Songs

The prophetic future of Israel, and their latter-day circumstances morally considered. The Messiah's identification with the remnant (Jewish).

Many writers, David chiefly; Ezra, the compiler,

Palestine chiefly. The first chronologically, is the 90th, the last, the 137th (?). The composition of the whole extended through a period of 1,000 years. Ezra, the compiler, on his return from the Babylon captivity about 457 B.C.

The Proverbs, i.e., wise maxims,1 Kings 4:32.

The path of Divine wisdom for earthly relationships and circumstances.

Spoken by Solomon except chaps. 30, 31; compiler (?)

Palestine; probably collected and compiled in the days of Hezekiah (Prov. 25:1) about 726 B.C.

Ecclesiastes, the preacher, chap. 1:1-2.

The world; its wealth, wisdom, pleasures, and boundless resources, all pronounced vanity. The object neither large nor precious enough for the heart.

Solomon, Ecclesiastes 1:1.

Palestine, about 975 B.C.

Song of Solomon, see chap. 1:1, with 1 Kings 4:32.

The moral subjects treated of are love and communion. The Beloved, i.e., Christ, God's object for the heart whether of Jew or Gentile.

Solomon, Song of Solomon 1:1.

Palestine, about 1014 B.C.

Isaiah, salvation of the Lord.

The grandest of the Hebrew prophets, and containing a full prophetic outline of Israel's future.

Isaiah 1:1; John 12:38-41.

Palestine, about 698 B.C.

Jeremiah, established of the Lord.

Moral appeals addressed to the conscience of Judah, with history and prophetic future of the nation.

Jeremiah 1:1-4; Matt. 2:17-18.

Palestine or Egypt, about 587 B.C.

Lamentations, strains of anguish.

Zion's desolation by the Chaldeans, expressed in touching strains of anguish.

Jeremiah, 2 Chron. 35:25.

Palestine, about 588 B.C. (?)

Ezekiel, God my strength.

Chaldean destruction of Jerusalem prophetically and symbolically announced, and Israel's prophetic future in her land.

Ezekiel 1:1-3; Rom 2:24.

Banks of the Chebar, Mesopotamia, about 557 B.C.

Daniel, God my judge.

The rise, course, and doom of the four universal empires, and especially of the third and fourth in connection with the latter day circumstances of Israel.

Daniel 12:4; Matt. 24:15.

Babylon (at the court), about 534 B.C.

Hosea, deliverance.

In these appeals, warnings, and prophetic utterances, Israel only is embraced.

Hosea 1:1-2 Rom. 9:25.

Palestine, about 725 B.C.

Joel, whose God is Jehovah.

The day of the Lord in judgment upon Judah and the Gentiles, and the subsequent blessing of "all flesh".

Joel 1:1; Acts 2:16.

Palestine, about 800 B.C.

Amos, a bearer.

Judgment announced upon those nations in external relationship to Israel, also the judgment of Israel and its future blessing.

Amos 1:1; Acts 15:16-17.

Palestine, about 787 B.C.

Obadiah, servant of the Lord.

The burden of Edom, whose rage and pride against Israel knew no bounds; see Ps. 137:7.

Obadiah 1.

Palestine, about 587?

Jonah, a dove.

The instructive history of this Jewish prophet and God's governmental dealings with nations are here finely blended.

Jonah 1:1; Matt. 12:39-41.

Palestine or nigh Nineveh, about 826 B.C.

Micah, who is Jehovah?

God judging Israel and all the earth from His temple, but sovereign mercy yet in store for Israel, chap. 7:20.

Micah 1:1; Matt. 2:5-6.

Palestine, about 750 B.C.

Nahum, consolatory.

God's character in judgment while revealing the doom of Nineveh, destroyed about 625 B.C.

Nahum 1:1; Rom. 10:15.

Palestine probably, about 713 B.C.

Habakkuk, an embrace.

The prophet identifying himself in heart and interest with the condition and circumstances of the people before God.

Habakkuk 1:1; Acts 13:41.

Palestine, about 626 B.C.

Zephaniah, protected of the Lord.

Thorough and unsparing judgment upon Israel and the Gentiles lying near Palestine; glory gilding the future.

Zephaniah 1:1.

Palestine, about 630 B.C.

Haggai, festive.

The indifference of the returned remnants to Jehovah and His house, with the future glory of the Lord and of His coming kingdom.

Haggai 1:1.

Palestine, about 520 B.C.

Zechariah, remembered of the Lord.

Here the royalty of Christ and His connection with the Jews, especially in the future as the Deliverer of His people from their sins and Gentile enemies, are in question.

Zechariah 1:1; Matt. 21:4-5.

Palestine, about 520 B.C.

Malachi, the Lord's messenger, Mal. 3:1.

Jehovah's closing message to and pleading with Israel, or rather Judah, returned from the captivity to Palestine.

Malachi 1:1; Matt. 11:10.

Palestine, about 420 B.C.

Note. — Absolute certainty in all cases cannot be relied on.