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It seems to us also that Professor Cheyne has unwittingly contradicted himself. He affirms that “ the picture of the new reformation as presented to us in the fragmentary chronicles (Ezra and Nehemiab) is too monotonous in colouring” (p. 73). The reason for the assertion is plain. The chronicles referred to have only stated the bald facts of the history of their time. They do not seem to have drawn much on their imagination for the facts recorded, as later historians have too often done; nor do they mix up their religious or philosophical opinions with their facts, as have others. It is, indeed, to be regretted that the writers referred to give few details as to the mode in which the civil and religious government of the land was carried on. They do not mention“ the men of the Great Synagogue,” which body, in spite of all that Kuenen and Robertson-Smith have written, we do not believe to be wholly a creation of the legend-mongers. They do not say a word about the so-called closing of the canon of the Old Testament. Nor do they put on record any of the steps taken by Ezra, Nehemiah, and their successors after the losses of the Exilic period to secure correct copies of the sacred books of the nation. When those books are referred to in the history of the Maccabees, they are, however, spoken of as universally recognized to be of authority; which is of itself sufficient substantially to prove that the books themselves were no creations of the Maccabæan era, while the references to pre-Exilian Israelitish history in Ezra and Nehemiah are in exact harmony with the facts recorded in the Pentateuch and the other books of the Old Testament.
Dr. Cheyne's explanation of the phenomena just referred to is that "the Jewish Church of the Exile and post-Exile period cared but little for its own history. It thought upon the stones of the outward temple, but not much upon those records of the past which are the stones of a temple not made with hands” (p. 75). We should be inclined to give a more charitable explanation. "Deeds not words
Deeds not words " seems to have been the guiding principle of that rough and stormy day. Men were called rather to do battle for the Law they loved, and the God whom they worshipped, than to write down their musings upon past or present history. If Professor Cheyne's interpretation be correct, and if the writers of that period loved minutely to depict matters connected with the outward temple service, why are they all so silent upon the literary matters of so much greater importance ? Is it not absurd to suppose, as so many of the higher critics do, that this very post-Exilic period was a period of the most intense literary and spiritual activity ?. For it is now maintained that in the midst of these troublous days, in which “ the land” had scarcely, if ever, “rest for forty years,” were composed, edited, and re-arranged nearly all the masterpieces of sacred literature. Within that period Jewish theologians, according to Cheyne's theories, not only became acquainted with the great thoughts embodied in Zoroastrianism, but were able, quietly and secretly, to infuse religious principles and ideas borrowed from that source into the Psalms and professed writings of the Hebrew prophets. To quote Cheyne's own words, in that age the “thinkers and poets deliberately threw themselves into what may quite innocently be
called a mythic revival. The leaders of the Church permitted this; they were content to moderate and turn to wholesome uses a tendency which they could not extinguish. Only where the fundamentals of religion were concerned they stood firm” (p. 270). Such statements are sufficient to prove that, if we cannot on all points depend absolutely upon the accounts handed down by ancient tradition, it is certain that far less credence ought to be given to the imaginary views of critics with respect to the acts and monuments of an age of which so little is really known.
These considerations have a distinct bearing on Professor Cheyne's theory as to Psalm cx. The ruler of Israel concerning whom that Psalm speaks, is depicted in that poem as a royal priest. It may, we suppose, be fairly taken for granted that in that Psalm one who is a king as well as priest is described, although the name" king” does not occur in its verses. Possibly some ingenious critic of the future may attempt to dispute even that point. It is sufficient in proof of the assumption to call attention to the facts that the ruler whose praises are sung is described as sitting on the right hand of Jehovah (v. 1), ruling in the midst of his enemies (v. 2), followed by a numerous array of young men clad, however, in festal not in warlike attire (v. 3, compare the story in 2 Chron. xx. 14-29), and ultimately victorious in fight (v. 6), kings being put to flight before him in the day of Jehovah's wrath (v. 5).
His priestly character is brought before us in the solemn words of v. 4: “ Jehovah hath sworn, and will not repent, Thou art a priest for ever after the order of Melchizedek." It is positively painful to note the interpretation that Professor Cheyne can bring himself to put upon this “oracle” of Jehovah (the words of v. 1 are "785 num' ), in which his “ oath too is spoken of, so solemnly commented on in the Epistle to the Hebrews. He explains it “as in the fullest sense a glorification of Simon. implies, but does not expressly state, that his hero is about to assume regal authority. Does not this fully correspond to the historical position of Simon ? He did not, of course, claim the title of king (later on in Lect. V., however, Cheyne considers the regal psalms, Ps. xx. xxi., to refer to him]; but he lacked nothing of the dignity but the name. Syria claimed no authority over him; without asking leave of his nominal over-lord he struck coins and collected armies, and from his accession the Jewish people dated the era of its independence. Who else can be meant but Simon ?”
The Oxford Professor next proceeds to explain the words “after the order of Melchizedek" (on which the New Testament places so much stress), as illustrated by the term given by Hyrcanus II. in the so-called letter of Cæsar Augustus in Josephus (Ant. xvi. 6, 2), namely, úp xeépevs toû utiotov Ocoð, and reminds us that in the Apocryphal Assumption of Moses " the Maccabæan princes are referred to as priests of the Most High God, vi. 17.” “This was, in fact, long the usual title of the ruling prince in letters of divorce and similar legal documents, according to an old Talmudic tradition."
Reference is, of course, also made by Professor Cheyne to the story of the decree made by the Jews, and written on tables of brass, and set up upon pillars in Mount Zion, given in 1 Macc. xiv., and the statement therein made that Simon was to be “their governor and high priest for ever until there should arise a faithful prophet” (ver. 41).
This assumption on the part of Simon of the high priesthood and the rulership, which we regard as an act of apostasy predicted by Zechariah (see my Bampton Lectures ou Zech. xi.), did not originate with Simon, although the people seem to have solemnly ratified the union in his day. The Maccabee chieftains at first only assumed the position of the ancient " judges," and they had no right to assume either the office of high priest or of king. They exhibited for some time (1 Macc. iv. 46, ix. 27, xiv. 41) a desire to wait for the advent of an inspired prophet to guide them; but, disappointed, like Saul by the non-arrival of Samuel (1 Sam. xiii. 8-14), they, like him, for political reasons, took to themselves those dignities from which they were debarred by the Law and the Prophets, Jonathan Maccabæus, in an evil hour, accepted the gift of the high priesthood, with the purple robe and crown of gold, from King Alexander (1 Macc. x. 17-21); a gift which that king's rival, Demetrius, at once offered to confirm and enlarge, and which he did at a later period (ch. xi. 26, 27). Both dignities were, still later, also given by Antiochus (ch. xi. 57, 58). The ratification of those acts by the people of the Jews was the consummation of that national apostasy which marred the great Maccabæan revival. The
passage in Ps. cx. 4 derives much light from Zech. vi. 13. If the text of the latter passage be correct, it is tolerably clear that there is a reference to Ps. cx., and, therefore, that Psalm must be pre-Exilian. In the passage in question an account is given of the arrival of a deputation sent from the Jews who still lingered in Babylon to the headquarters of their nation in Jerusalem. The deputation bore gifts of gold and silver for the use of the restored temple. By the directions of the Lord, the prophet Zechariah was commanded to go and take from those gifts silver and gold and to make crowns, which were ultimately to be hung in the temple as a memorial. The Hebrew word used for crown, in Zech. vi. 11, is in the plural, but the same word is used elsewhere in the plural in the sense of a single crown (Job xxxi. 36). Moreover, in v. 14 the plural word is connected with the verb in the singular, which goes far to show that a single crown, probably composed of several fillets of silver and gold, was signified (compare Rev. xix. 9, 12). It is a pure invention of the "critics” to introduce into the passage the idea that there were two crowns, one designed for the head of Zerubbabel, the chief of the state, and the other for Joshua, the high priest. The crown made by Zechariah was, by Divine direction, placed for a few moments upon the head of the high priest, and the priest so crowned was addressed by the prophet in the solemn words :-"Behold the man, Branch (or shoot) is his name, and he shall branch up (or shoot up) from his place, and build the temple of Jehovah, even he shall bear majesty, and shall sit and rule upon his throne, and
he shall be priest upon his throne, and the counsel of peace shall be between them both.” The crown
was not placed upon the head of Zerubbabel, because Zerubbabel was a son of David, and entitled to the throne, and therefore, the prophecy in that case would have been understood by the bystanders to refer to that chief. Cheyne would admit that the prophet's "inspiration was not incompatible with some harmless illusions” (p. 28). We cannot admit such a principle. The crown was placed upon the head of Joshua the high priest, who, not being of the seed of David, had no right to the throne; consequently, both he and the people would understand that the prophecy referred to some future individual, the Messiah who was to come of the seed of David, who was to build the true temple, and who, in building that temple, would have co-workers from distant lands. He was to be a priest upon his throne, and the counsel of peace (an everlasting covenant) was to be made between him as High Priest and King on the one hand and Jehovah on the other. To get rid of this ciear proof of a “heaven-descended theology," of a
, Divine afflatus that speaks of things that were not as if they were actually in existence, the first thing necessary is to alter the text. This has been done by Professor Cheyne, in defiance of the “unanimous consent” of MSS. and Versions. Cheyne is in this particular but a follower of Ewald. Cheyne observes, “as Ewald has shown there can be no doubt that in ver. 11 we should read, upon the head of Zerubbabel and upon the head of Joshua," and coolly adds, “ with this correction the only proof-passage for the idea of a Messiah-Priest in the Old Testament falls away.”
The correction, however, destroys the Messianic signification of the passage in Zechariah, and the most important argument for the Davidic authorship of Ps. cx. Against such “corrections," we solemnly protest. We protest against them as an abuse of “critical conjecture,” which is often of great importance. We protest against them as nothing else than an unholy tampering with the sacred text. On similar principles anything whatever can be made out of the sacred records. An inconvenient text may thus be got rid of here and there; and all proofs of “the supernatural” quietly eliminated from the Sacred Word. The phenomena of the Scriptures must be carefully noted, but we protest against making phenomena; against the critic first making a Bible of his own, and then arguing from such a text, as if it were above “doubt” or suspicion, as Professor Cheyne does. Especially must we be on our guard against “removing landmarks which are of enormous theological importance, such as those set forth in Ps. cx., the importance of which has been recognized and argued on in the New Testament Scriptures from a text not specially formed by those writers, but acknowledged as correct by the men of their generation,
THE SIGN GIVEN TO AHAZ.
By Rev. PREBENDARY H. C. GROVES, D.D. The obscurity involving Isaiah's prediction of the birth of Immanuel is produced by the misconception of the nature of the sign foretold by the prophet, and of the meaning of the words as uttered by him, "The virgin shall conceive, and bear a son.
In considering what the sign was, the Old Testament use of the word 'oth, translated sign, should be kept in view. Although sometimes employed to denote a miracle as a sign of the Divine power, it most frequently signifies some event, occurring apparently in the natural course of things, which is foretold as a token of the future fulfilment of the whole prophecy. Thus, Exod. iii. 12, the sign to Moses that God had sent him was, “ When thou hast brought forth the people out of Egypt, ye shall serve God on this mountain." To Eli (1 Sam. ii. 34), the sign of the rejection of his family from the high priesthood was, that Hophni and Phinehas " in one day they shall die both of them." To Saul (1 Sam. x. 1-9), three signs were given that he was to be king; he was to meet two messengers from his father at Zelzah; then in the plain of Tabor three men going up to God to Bethel; and when he came to the hill of God where is the garrison of the Philistines, he was to be met by a company of prophets whom he was to join. In Isa. xxxvii. 30, the sign of the overthrow of Sennacherib's host was, "ye shall eat this year such as groweth of itself; and the second year that which springeth of the same; and the third year sow ye, and reap, and plant vineyards, and eat the fruit thereof." Jeremiah xliv. 30, gave as a sign of the judgments which were to fall on the Jews for persisting in going down into Egypt, that Pharaoh-Hophra, king of Egypt, should be given into the hand of his enemies.
This use of the word proves that in the present case we are not compelled to look out for anything of a miraculous nature as the sign given to Ahaz. From the fact that it was forced on him in punishment for his refusal to accept a sign when offered to him by the prophet, it is evident that it must refer to something which could be witnessed by Ahaz and his contemporaries, and that, therefore, it cannot be the miraculous conception by the Virgin Mary.
We have, therefore, to examine whether there is anything else in the words in which Isaiah detailed the penal sign which was to be inflicted on Abaz, from which we can determine the nature of it.
Rezin and Pekah having combined to dethrone Ahaz, and to remove the family of David from the throne of Judah, Isaiah was commissioned by God to encourage Ahaz and to dissuade him from seeking the help of Assyria. He foretells to him that the design of his enemies "shall not stand, neither shall it come to pass ;” and that, with all the help received from Syria, Samaria itself in sixty-five years should cease to be a nation. Ahaz, bent on his Assyrian alliance, when invited to ask a sign of the Lord “either in the