Obrazy na stronie
PDF

f goal roud for merely human interests. With the greatest freedom he opposes Ahaz (vii. 1 sqq.). He does the same to the chamberlain Shebna (xxii. 15 sqq.), people of rank, priests and prophets, men | and women, in fact the whole people in general (ii.; iii.; v.; xxviii. 7 sqq.). Moreover he does not ... spire Hezekiah and his noble counsellors, nor the women who seem, under him also, to have attained | great influence. He keenly reproves the secret ways that their policy followed in regard to Egypt (xxx-xxxii.). When Hezekiah was sick, he says to him that he must die with the same boldness ... surviii. 1), that he afterwards joyfully announces to the believing suppliant his deliverance and l | the lengthening of his life (xxxviii. 5sqq.). And upon Hezekiah's having in foolish vanity dis* Played his treasures to the messengers from Babylon, he tells him plainly that all this shall be car*** fied away in exile to Babylon (xxxix. 5 sqq.). - - Though, on the one hand, we see the Prophet dealing thus practically with the emergencies of the present, yet, on the other hand, there exists for him no merely contemporary interest. For him * that immeasurable interval does not exist that for common men divides the remote from the imme** date fiture. Both appear to him a continued whole which he commands with his gaze in all its e parts. Every thing of like sort, which in its realization in time forms indeed an organic, connected line of development, yet one that is measurelessly extended, he sees before him as one tableau, whose figures, though really belonging to the most different stages of time, appear to him to stand alongside of one another. In one word, the limits of time do not exist for him. Periods of time vanish before his gaze. He contemplates together what is nearest and farthest when they belong together. Thus he comes back from the remotest future into the immediate present with a sudden spring, and rice persa. Thus i. 12 he comprehends Jerusalem's whole future of salvation in one. The great discourse of the second introduction sets two grand images of the remotest future at its head (ii. 1-4; iv. 2–6), in order to contemplate the present in their light. Much more frequently it happens that, immediately after an event of the near future, the Prophet sees the far and farthest future. Thus in chap. xi., immediately after the deliverance out of the hand of Assyria, he sees the form of the Messiah and of His kingdom of peace, and the latter, in fact, unfolded to its extremest consequences in the generation of a new life of nature. In chap. xvi. 5, to Moab, in reward for its reception of the figitives of Judah (whom, according to the whole context, he contemplates as expelled by a present threatening world-power), he promises participation in the blessings of the Messiah's kingdom. In chap. xix., immediately after announcing to Egypt its ruin by means of Assyria, the then representative of the world-power, he announces to it its conversion to Jehovah and its peaceful union with As-yria and Israel. Let these examples suffice. It would lead us too far to enumerate all the cases of this kind that occur in both parts of the book. Though this may not be an exclusive characteri-tic of Isaiah's, still one may say that it appears especially strong and frequent in him. This, agrees with the elevation of the view-point that he takes. For he that stands highest sees the

[ocr errors]
[ocr errors]
[ocr errors]
[ocr errors]
[ocr errors]

farthest. On this account especially he takes so high a rank among the prophets. In Jesus the son of Sirach he is called 6 Tpoorm: & Méyac (Ecclus. xlviii. 22), who further says of him that he rveipuari zoo, elde èaxara (ibid. ver. 24), and that he Éor roi ałóvoc intéðel:e égéueva (ibid. ver. 25). Erse BIU's calls him (dem. ev. II. 4) tow uéyav kal &avuáctov trpoofirmv—indeed even Tpoorm, pláytarov of. V. 4). THEoDoRET calls him & 9etóraroc ‘Hoaiac. IsIDORUs PELUs: 6 duopartsöratoc (lib. I. 2.366), and rôv spooffroy cadéotaroc (ibid. ep. 366). Closely connected with this is the consideraon that Isaiah foresees those facts of the fulfilment of salvation on which rests the specific teaching Christianity. For it is historical facts, not dogmas, that constitute the pith of Christian teaching. course it is not like one standing near that Isaiah sees those facts, but like one standing far off, ich is as it should be. For this reason he describes them in peculiarly strange words, that are to a self indistinct, and yet are essentially correct. Without himself having any presentiment of the aning of his words, he must predict the birth of the Saviour from an unmarried woman (vii. 14). d then he describes this child by expressions that sound blasphemous, if he to whom they are lied is held to be a man (ix. 5). In contrast with this, he sees the servant of God defamed so as ppear no longer human, and then again raised up to superhuman power and glory (liii.). Morehe sees an entirely new way of appropriating salvation that must indeed appear strange enough iman thoughts (lv.), and, what to pious persons of the Old Testament must have appeared downoffensive, he speaks of a worship of God to which the outward temple and ceremonial service

seem an abomination (lxvi. 1 sqq.). such are, if I may so express myself, the formal substructures of Isaiah's prophecy that make it proper to call him, as JERoME is the first to do: “non solum prophetam sed evangelistam et apostolum” (Prolog. in expos. Jes.; comp. the Epist, ad Paulinam, where he says: “non prophetiam mihi videtur tezere Esaias sed evangelium”). With reference to this, AUGUSTINE (De civ. Dei. XVIII. 29) says that Isaiah: “de Christo et ecclesia multa plura quam caeteri prophetavit, ita ut a quibusdam evangelista quam propheta potius diceretur.” CYRIL of ALEXANDRIA also, in the preface to his commentary, remarks: “ év Tavro Šart Tpop/rms dua kai äróorožoc.” I never could comprehend how any one could regard it as a postulate and promotive of scientific knowledge to explain the world without the personal God. Cancel Him, and then riddles and miracles fairly begin, and impossibilities are exacted of our faith. If one would require us to believe that some work of art came into being, not by an artist, but by abstract art, wisdom, power, we would declare such an one to be fit for the insane asylum. And yet men would have us believe that there is an abstract thinking and willing! They hold personality to be a limiting, and therefore an impersonal God to be something unlimited, therefore something higher But as soon as the limits of personality are broken away, one comes into the region of merely subjective representations; and the philosophers had better look to their aristocratic abstractions and see whether they possess the property of real, objective existence. If they lack this, then the philosophers have perhaps wrought for the study, but not for real life. It is both insanity and idolatry to wish to put abstractideal philosophy in the place of the concrete, vitalizing Christian religion. Moreover personality is not limitation in the negative sense. It is merely concentration, and thereby the condition of orderly and really effective being. Personality is, however, at the same time, the condition of an entire and full existence, i.e., it is not mere thinking and willing, but also sensibility. In other words: only personality can have a heart and love. To be sure, we touch here on the proper pith of the controversy. Not all men wish to be loved by God, still less to love Him in return. Humanity entire divides into two parts, one of which presses toward God, the other away from God. For the former, nothing is more precious than nearness to God; the latter feel easy only at a distance from Him. And now-a-days those are esteemed as the lords of science and as benefactors to mankind who do their best to “free (us) from the Creator,” as DAVID STRAUss says But here the criterion is not objective, impartial, scientific interest, but the interest of the heart self-determined in this or that way toward God. For under all circumstances our relation to God is a concern of the heart. One must either love Him or hate Him, be for Him or against Him (Luke xi. 23). Neutral no one can be. Consciously or unconsciously every man must feel himself attracted by God or repelled from Him, according as, in his secret heart, that which is kindred to God or that which is inimical to God has the upper hand. For there is no man in which both are not present. Take the hermemeutics that is founded on the assumption that there is no personal God, and that the world is founded on abstractions, in whose real existence one must believe, much as that contradicts all reason and experience; shall such hermeneutics be more entitled to consideration than that which rests on the fundamental view that there is a personal God, to whom we are related, who loves us and guides our fortune with paternal wisdom ? This question can never be objectively decided here below, because for each individual the subjective attitude of his own heart is the criterion. But at least let no one despise those who see in the Scriptures the revelation of a personal God. And above all things, one must not explain the writings of the prophets of the Old Testament on the assumption that they did not bona fide regard themselves as organs of the living, personal God that governs the world. One may say: they fancied themselves inspired. Very well– then let such point out the illusions that entangled them, and expose their enthusiasms. Or one may say: they were impostors. Then let such unmask them. But let no one put upon their words a sense that they themselves did not intend, because they just believed in a living personal God, and were convinced that they stood under the direct influence of His Spirit. Let no one empty their words of sense—let no one deny that they meant to prophesy because one does not himself believe in any prophecy. Let no one (as e.g. KNoBEL does) make out of the prophecy a marvellous masked representation of events that had already taken place. I willingly confess that the representatives of the divine origin of prophecy have been faulty in many respects. It has been often overlooked that not everything can be prophesied at any time; that therefore each prophecy must have its historical reason and ground, and that the form and contents of the prophecy must be in harmony with these. It has been further overlooked that prophesying is a seeing from a distance. From a distance one may very well observe a city, mountain and the like, in general outlines. But particulars one does not see. For this reason genuine prophecy in general will never meddle with spe" * * dial prediction. Where, however, the latter takes place, either the special trait contemplated is no subordinate individual thing, or it justifies the suspicion that it is false. These and like mistakes have been committed. But this does not hinder me from maintaining the divine origin of prophecy

[graphic]
[graphic]
[graphic]
[graphic]
[graphic]
[graphic]
[graphic]
[graphic]

f
in general, and also from claiming a scientific title for my construction of Isaiah's prophecy.

+ ox | § 3. THE LITERARY PERFoRMANCE AND THE BOOK OF THE PROPHET. 1. The lofty spirit resident in our Prophet has taken also a corresponding form. We see in him a master of the Hebrew language. He uses it with a power and ease that find their like in no other. He brought it to the summit of its development. Not only has he always the right word at command—he also never uses one word too much or one too few. And with admirable art, yet without affectation, he knows how to modulate the word according to the contents of the thought. All rhetorical forms of art are at his command, and he can employ all the riches of the language. Something royal has been observed in the way that Isaiah uses the language. So that ABARBANEL associates this character of Isaiah's language with the sancied royal descent of the Prophet, saying: “the charm of his discourse and the beauty of his eloquence is like the discourse of the kings and counsellors of the land, who had a much pleasanter and purer way of speaking than the rest of the children of men” (Comm. in proph. post Jes. I.; see GESENIUs on Jes. I. p. 36). And in another fishion the TALMUD, Tractat. Chagiga (Fol. 13 b) expresses the same thought, saying: “Ezekiel resembles the son of the village when he beholds the splendor of the king, but Isaiah resembles the son of the royal residence” (comp. FUERST, D. Kanon des A. T., pp. 17, 21). 2. As regards the book itself, it divides first into two chief parts: chaps. i.-xxxv. and xl.-lxvi. Between these two chief parts are the chapters xxxvi.-xxxix., which, Janus-like, look forwards and backwards, inasmuch as the chapters xxxvi. and xxxvii. conclude the Assyrian period, and chapters xxxviii. and xxxix. prepare the way for the Babylonian period. The first part then ought properly to be reckoned from i.-xxxvii., the second from xxxviii.-lxvi. But it is traditional to reckon xxxvi-xxxix. together, and that, too, along with the first chief part, because part first, on account of the greater variety of its contents, may easier receive those historical chapters than the

second part that has a quite uniform and exclusive character.
3. Taking part first to include i.-xxxix. we follow the traditional way of counting. But pro-
For chapters i.-vi. contain the great threefold

perly this first principal part begins with chap. vii.
introduction relating to the entire book. That is to say, not only is chap. i. introductive, but chap-

ters i.—v. are the second and chap. vi. the third introduction. Through three gates we enter into the majestic structure of Isaiah's prophecy. For the proof of this see the comment in loc. Part first falls into five subdivisions. The first subdivision comprises chaps. vii.-xii. In this section the Prophet treats of the relations of Israel to Assyria, contrasting the ruinous beginning of this relation with the blessed termination of it. The second subdivision contains the prophecies against foreign nations (xiii.-xxiii.) At the head of these stands a prophecy against Babylon. For first, this begins with a general contemplation of “the day of the Lord,” so that, in a measure, it forms the introduction to all announcements of judgment that follow, and, then, the Prophet sees precisely

in Babylon the chief enemy of the theocracy that is appointed to make a preliminary end to its outThis is followed by a short prophecy against Assyria, the

ward continuance (xiii. 1–xiv. 23). enemy, of course, most to be dreaded in the Prophet's time (xiv. 24–27). Following this are

prophecies relating to other nations threatened by Assyria: Philistia, Moab, Ephraim-Syria, Ethi

opia and Egypt (xiv. 28—xx. 6). . Chapters xxi. and xxii. constitute a special little hop. They also contain prophecies against heathen nations, viz.: Babylon, Edom, and Arabia. But there is connected with this in an unusual way a prophecy against Jerusalem. The reason is that these four prophecies bear emblematic superscriptions, on which account we have called them libellus emblematicus. The character of the superscription, therefore, which coincides with that of the other three superscriptions, makes the reaon why this prophecy against Jerusalem is incorporated with the prophecies against foreign nations. * Prophecy against Tyre forms the conclusion of this second subdivision: the siege of this city by hairmaneser, which took place in the Prophets time, furnished the occasion for it. But the Prophet es before him the fate of the city down to the remotest future, and in this contemplation of the fure is not wanting the factor that the Chaldeans shall be the ones to make an end of the independce of Tyre. Chaps. Xxiv.–xxvii. form a kind of finale to the discourses against the nations. they treat of last things, of the end of the world, the world's judgment, resurrection of the dead, and

[graphic]

the fulfilment of the salvation promised to the people Israel. We have called these four chapters libellus apocalypticus. The Third Subdivision has for its subject the relation of Israel to Assyria .n the days of king Hezekiah (xxviii.--xxxiii.). It contains five discourses in six chapters. Each discourse begins with 'in. They stand in chronological order, and are all of them total surveys, in that each, in a special manner, proceeding from the present distress, and with censure of the false means of deliverance, compresses in one the deliverance out of the distress and the salvation of the (Messianic) end-period that are determined and promised of God. The Fourth Subdivision comprises chaps. xxxiv. and xxxv. These two chapters we designate the finale of part first. They contain a concluding glance at the end-period in respect to the two aspects of it, viz.: the divine judgments both in respect to punishment and salvation. The first is described as comprehending not only the earth, but also the constellations of heaven, in which, however, the manner of its operation on earth is exhibited by a special portrayal of the judgment against one of Israel's most bitter enemies, viz.: Edom. That we stand here at an important boundary, viz.: at the close of part first, appears from the invitation, xxiv. 16, to search the “Book of Jehovah,” and thereby verify the fulfilment. This Book of Jehovah can be nothing else than just our part first, to which the Prophet here refers back as to a whole now brought to conclusion. Finally xxxv. describes the salvation which shall be imparted to the people of God by the final judgment. But the Prophet for the present makes prominent only one principal point, viz.: the return home out of the lands of exile into the Holy Land to everlasting joy. We see in this, at the same time, a transition to part second, that has for its subject the description of the period of salvation in all its aspects. The Fifth Subdivision finally comprehends chapters xxxvi.-xxxix. Their contents is historical and essentially the same that we read in 2 Kings xviii. 13—xx. 19. Chapters xxxvi. and xxxvii. relate the deepest distress into which Hezekiah, confined to his capital city, was brought by the Assyrians, and also the unexpected, sudden and complete deliverance out of this distress by the plague that broke out in the camp of the Assyrians. This fact forms the conclusion of all relations of Israel to Assyria, and therefore xxxvi. and xxxvii. stand first, although the events narrated in them belong to a later period. Chapters xxxviii. and xxxix. inform us of the sickness and recovery of Hezekiah in the fourteenth year of his reign, and of the Babylonian embassy that congratulated him on this account. Hereby was afforded occasion to the Prophet to prophesy the Babylonian exile, and in so far xxxviii. and xxxix. are, so to speak, the bridge to chapters xl.-xlvi., and stand immediately before them, although the events of which they inform us precede by about fourteen years the events narrated in chaps. xxxvi. and xxxvii. 4. Surveying again the collection of prophecies in part first, we see that they are well arranged. The older commentators (even LUTHER) have erroneously held them to be without arrangement, and put together without plan. But the dominating principle is an arrangement according to matter rather than chronological arrangement. The first introduction (chap. i.) belongs to the latest pieces. It has much in common with chapters xl.-xlvi. (see below). The second introduction (ii-v.) is, as a whole, also the product of that period when the Prophet put his book together. Still for this introduction the Prophet made use of earlier pieces, especially of the period of Ahaz (comp. iii. comm.). And thereby, of course, he has given at the same time a picture of that period of his labors which preceded the first conflict with the world-power and the prophecies that related to it. For this reason this introduction bears more of a general ethical character. The third introduction belongs to the fact of the last year of Uzziah therein related. When it was written up is not expressly said. But it is in the nature of the thing that this should happen early rather than late after the event itself. Of chapters vii.-xii. the first part (vii. 1–ix. 6) belongs to the beginning of the three years which Pekah had in common with Ahaz, thus about 743 B.C. The second part, however (ix. 7– x. 4) belongs in the end of this period, thus about 740, 39 (see introd. to the text in loc.). Of the second part (x. 5–xii. 6) the piece x. 5–34 belongs in the time when Hezekiah was put to the greatest distress by the summons related xxxvi. (see introduction to x. 5–19). Chap. xi., on account of its relationship with xiv. 28–32, originated in the period when Hezekiah had ascended the throne, this about 728 B. C. The doxology, chap. xii., bears no trace of any particular time; still, as conclusion of this section, it must any way have originated at the time the latter was put together (ibid.) The first prophecy against Babylon (xiii. 1–Xiv. 23) presupposes the period in which the Prophet recognized Assyria as a thing of the past, and saw in Babylon the world-power that was called to execute judgment on the theocracy. The prophecy, therefore, falls in the latest stadium of Isaiah's

prophetic activity. The short prophecy against Assyria predicts Sennacherib's catastrophe as near at hand. It belongs therefore to the period shortly before the event. The short piece xiv. 28–32 must have originated shortly after Hezekiah took the throne. The prophecy against Moab (xv. and xvi.) must, as to its older part (xv. 1-xvi. 12), belong to the reign of Ahaz. It may have originated after 741 B.C. and before the incursion of the Edomites into Judah mentioned in 2 Chron. xxviii. 17. The time of its publication is indeed relatively determined by the later brief prophecy xvi. 13, 14; but so far it has not been made out what event the Prophet means by the blow threatened against Moab xvi. 14. Any way, however, the Prophet has in mind an act of hostility on the part of Assyria against Moab. Chapters xvii. and xviii., which are equally directed against Ephraim-Syria and against Assyria, belong to the beginning of the reign of Ahaz, to the same period to which the prophecies vii. 1 -ix. 6 owe their origin. Chapters xix. and xx. relate to Ethiopia-Egypt. They fall in the time of Hezekiah, and indeed they cannot have been written earlier than 708 B.C. (see in Comm. introd. to xvii.-xx.). The brief prophecy against Babylon (xxi. 1–10), which stands here on account of its emblematical superscription, appears to belong to the same period as xiii. 1–14. Still the character of the piece in respect to language and rhetoric are not quite in harmony with it. The two small prophecies against Edom (xxi. 11, 12) and Arabia (xxi. 13–17) fall in the time of Hezekiah, more exactly, in the time before the catastrophe of Sennacherib, when the Assyrians threatened the independence of all the nations that lay between Assyria and Egypt. To this same period also belongs chap. xxii. More exactly, the chapter presupposes, and that in both its parts, the period when the Assyrians threatened Jerusalem directly. The prophecy against Tyre has this in common with the prophecies against the theocracy itself, that it does not designate Assyria, the immediate source of menace, but Babylon as the instrument to whom God has entrusted His judgment, and it must have originated in the time when Shalmaneser besieged Tyre, thus before 722 B.C. (see comm. in loc.). It is hard to determine when the chapters xxiv.–xxvii. originated. Still the Prophet sees the theocracy in conflict with Assyria and Egypt. Babylon stands veiled in the background. This seems to point to the time of Hezekiah, and indeed to the time before Sennacherib's catastrophe (see comm. in loc.). Of the five discourses (xxviii.-xxxiii.) that represent the relation of Israel to Assyria in the time of Hezekiah, the first must have originated already before the beginning of the siege of Samaria, thus about 725 B.C. (ibid.). Chap. xxix. is of much later origin, belonging to about the year 902 B.C. Chapters xxx-xxxii., according to their contents, belong to the same period as xxix. They join directly on to this in chronological order. Chap. xxxiii. belongs to the period shortly before the summons that Rabsheka sent to Hezekiah. Chaps xxxiv. and xxxv. originated in the latest pe. riod of the Prophet contemporaneously with the grand connected complexity of prophecy in the chaps. xl.-lxvi. A more exact determination of the time is impossible. Chaps. xxxvi-xxxix. very probably spring from a memorandum of Isaiah's that had for its subject the great events of the reign of Hezekiah, and to which 2 Chron. xxxii. 26 seems to point. The insertion of these chapters at this point is so suitable—in fact so necessary—that we must even ascribe them to the Prophet himself. But a later hand has made alterations in the dates of the suPerscriptions, and also perhaps in the mention of names (xxxix. 1), which has become the occasion of great confusion. The events for instance narrated in xxxvi. and xxxvii. took place fourteen years later than those narrated in xxxviii. and xxxix. Anyway, the narratives stood in the original source in the correct chronological order, i.e., so that xxxvi. and xxxvii. followed xxxviii, and xxxix. The narra. tives were transposed to correspond with the aim of the book of prophecy. Now in the original source the introduction of chap. xxxviii. must have read: “And it came to pass in the fourteenth year of king Hezekiah.” But chap. xxxvi. began with the words: “And it came to pass in the fourteenth year.” Thereby was meant the fourteenth year after the events narrated in xxxviii. and xxxix; therefore the twenty-eighth year of Hezekiah, or the 700 B.C., the year in which actually occurred Sennacherib's catastrophe.” When then those historical sections were adopted into the collection of Isaiah's prophecies, and that in a reversed order, the dates ought properly to have been altered to correspond. This, however, did not take place. Thus xxxvi. began with the words: “And it came to pass in

* I remark here that the historical and chronological objections raised by Wellhausex, v. Gutschwin, Oppear against many results of ScHRADEB's investigations are well known to me. Still the few data that come here into o: partly lie quite out of the sphere of those objections, partly, as appears to me, they are quite unaffected them.

« PoprzedniaDalej »