صور الصفحة
PDF
النشر الإلكتروني

greater extent than is the case with the earlier prophets. Thus in Ezekiel we have the allegories of the vine-tree (ch. xv.), the abandoned infant (ch. xvi.), the two eagles and the vine (ch. xvii.), the lion's whelps (ch. xix.), the two harlots (ch. xxiii.), the flourishing tree (ch. xxxi.), the shepherds and their flock (ch. xxxiv.); and in Zech. we find a series of visions, in which the prophet sees, for instance, the Divine horses, symbolizing the ubiquity of Jehovah's presence upon the earth (i. 8—17), four horns symbolizing the powers of the world arrayed against Israel (i. 18-21), a golden candlestick, representing the restored community (ch. iv.), and chariots proceeding to the different quarters of the earth, symbolizing the fulfilment of Jehovah's judgements (vi. 1-8). But, as applied in Daniel, both the symbolism and the veiled predictions are characteristic of a species of literature which was now beginning to spring up, and which is known commonly by modern writers as Apocalyptic Literature.

The word 'apocalypse' means disclosure, revelation; and though ordinary prophecy contains 'disclosures,' whether respecting the will of God in general, or respecting the future, the term is applied in particular to writings in which the 'disclosure,' or 'revelation,' is of a specially marked and distinctive character. The beginnings of this type of writing are to be found in those post-exilic prophecies of the O. T. relating to the future, which are less closely attached to the existing order of things than is usually the case, and which, though they cannot be said actually to describe it, may nevertheless be regarded as prophetic anticipations of the final judgement, and consummation of all things, as Is. xxiv.—xxvii., Zech. xiv., Joel iii. 9—171. But at a later date, apocalyptic prophecy assumed a special form, and became the expression of particular feelings and ideas.

Apocalyptic prophecy arose in an age in which there were no longer any prophets of the older type, addressing themselves directly to the needs of the times, and speaking in person to the people in the name of God: and it consists essentially of a

1 Cf. Kirkpatrick, Doctrine of the Prophets, pp. 475 f., 481, 488 f.; and the present writer's Joel and Amos (in the Cambridge Bible), p. 33.

development and adaptation of the ideas and promisès expressed by the older prophets, designed especially with the object of affording encouragement and consolation to faithful Israelites in a period of national distress. The call to repentance, and rebuke for sin, which formed the primary and central element in the teaching of the older prophets, assumed in the age now under consideration a secondary place: Israel was subject to the heathen, and the crying question was, When would its long and humiliating servitude be at an end? When would the older prophecies of future glory and triumph over the heathen be fulfilled? How much longer would Jehovah's promised redemption be deferred? Hence, in the form of prophecy which now arose, a much more prominent place was taken than had formerly been the case by visions of the future: older, but hitherto unfulfilled, promises of Israel's destined glory were reaffirmed, and were made the basis of larger and broader outlooks into the future. Its mode of representation was artificial. The disclosures which were the most characteristic element of apocalyptic prophecy were not made by the author in his own person, they were placed in the mouth of some pious and famous man of old—an Enoch, a Moses, a Baruch, an Ezra : from the standpoint of the assumed speaker the future was unrolled, usually under symbolic imagery, down to the time in which the actual author lived: the heavens were thrown open, glimpses were given of the offices and operation of the celestial hierarchy: God's final judgement both upon His own people and upon the powers opposed to it was described the approaching deliverance of the afflicted Israelites was declared: the resurrection and future lot alike of the righteous and of the wicked were portrayed in vivid imagery. The seer who is represented as the author of the book, sometimes beholds these things himself in a vision or dream, but often he holds discourse with an angel, who either explains to him what he does not fully understand, or communicates to him the revelations in their entirety. Naturally there are variations in detail: the subjects enumerated do not appear uniformly with precisely the same prominence; hortatory or didactic matter is also often present as well: but speaking generally some at least

of them are present in every 'apocalypse,' and constitute its most conspicuous and distinctive feature. A brief account of two or three of the more important apocalypses may help to give substance to what has been said.

The Book of Enoch is the longest known work of the kind; and in its earliest parts (for it is evidently of composite authorship) is certainly the nearest in date to the Book of Daniel. It is said of Enoch in Gen. v. 24 that he 'walked with God'; and the expression was taken in later times to mean not only that he led a godly life, but also that he was the recipient of supernatural knowledge. The 'Book of Enoch' gives an account of the knowledge which he was supposed in this way to have attained. The oldest sections of the book are chs. i.-xxxvi., lxxii.— cviii., probably (Dillmann, Schürer) c. 120 B.C., and chs. lxxxiii.—xc. may even, according to Charles, be almost contemporary with Daniel (B.C. 166–161). In chs. i.-xxxvi. Enoch first (ch. i.) tells how he had had a vision of future judgement: God would appear, 'with ten thousands of His holy ones' (Jude 14, 15) on Mount Sinai, to punish the fallen angels, and wicked men, and to reward the righteous with peace and felicity. In chs. xvii.-xxxvi. he relates how he had been led in vision through different parts of the earth; and had been shewn by an angel, Uriel or Raphael, the fiery abyss prepared for the rebellious angels, Sheol, with four divisions set apart for different classes of the departed (xxii.), Jerusalem (xxv.-xxvi.), Gehenna (the valley of Hinnom) close by (xxvii.), and Paradise, with the tree of life, in the far East (xxxii.). The ultimate lot of the righteous, as depicted here, is not, however, eternal life in heaven, but long, untroubled life in an ideal Paradise on earth. In chs. lxxxiii.-xc.— perhaps, as just said, the oldest part of the book,-Enoch recounts to his son Methuselah two visions which he has seen. The first vision (lxxxiii.—lxxxiv.) describes the approaching Deluge; the second (lxxxv.—xc.) unfolds, in a symbolical form,—the leaders of the chosen race being represented by domestic animals, bulls or sheep, and the Gentiles by different wild beasts and birds of prey, the entire history of the patriarchs and Israel, from Adam to the author's own time; after that (xc. 18 ff.) God Himself appears to judge the world, Israel's oppressors are destroyed, and the Messianic kingdom is established. The events indicated by the symbolism are usually sufficiently clear; but sometimes (as in Daniel) there is ambiguity:

indeed, the date of this part of the book depends upon whether the 'great horn' which grows upon one of the 'sheep' in xc. 9 is to be interpreted (with Dillm., Schürer, and others) of John Hyrcanus (B.C. 135-105), or (with Charles) of Judas Maccabaeus (B. C. 165-161). As illustrating Dan. x. 13, 20, 21, xii. 1, it is worth noticing that Israel, after its apostasy, is committed to the charge of 70 'shepherds' (i.e. angels), who are held responsible for what happens to it, and are afterwards called up before God for judgement (lxxxix. 54—xc. 17, 22—25).

Chs. xci.-xciii., also addressed to Methuselah, contain another historical apocalypse: the history of the patriarchs and of Israel is divided into seven weeks, in the first of which lives Enoch, in the second Noah, &c. (but without any names being actually mentioned); at the end of the seventh week, which is described as an age of apostasy, the writer lives himself: the eighth week, that of ‘righteousness,' sees the kingdom of God established in the land of Israel: in the ninth week it is spread over all the earth: in the tenth week will be the 'eternal judgement' upon the fallen angels; there will then follow 'weeks without number in goodness and righteousness, and sin will no more be mentioned for ever' (xciii. 1—10, xci. 12-17). Chs. xciv.cv., addressed to Enoch's sons, consist of a series of woes pronounced upon sinners, intermixed with exhortations to follow righteousness and avoid the ways of sin and death.

In all the preceding sections of the book there is either no Messiah, or, at most (xc. 37), a Messiah who is merely a superior man, mentioned only in passing, very different from the glorious super-human Messiah of chs. xxxvii.-lxxi.

Chs. xxxvii.-lxxi., commonly known as the 'Similitudes,' date, according to Dillm., Charles, and others, from shortly before B.C. 64, according to Schürer, from the time of Herod. In these chapters the Messiah is a much more prominent and also a much more exalted figure than in the other parts of the book. The chapters consist of three 'similitudes,' or visions. In the first (xxxviii.-xliv.) Enoch sees the abodes of the righteous, and the 'Elect One' (the Messiah), the Almighty surrounded by myriads of angels, and with the four 'presences,' Michael, Raphael, Gabriel, and Phanuel, ever praying before Him, and is admitted also to the 'secrets of the heavens' (including the explanation of different natural phenomena, as lightnings, wind, dew, &c.). In the second vision (xlv.—lvii.) he beholds the Messianic judgement, the 'Elect One,' or the 'Son of Man,' beside the 'Head of

Days' (the Almighty), and afterwards sitting on the 'throne of his glory,' for the purpose of judging the world; after the judgement, the fallen angels and wicked kings are cast into a furnace of fire; a resurrection of Israelites takes place (li. 1), the righteous 'become angels' (li. 4), and crying everlasting felicity. In the third vision (lviii.-lxix., but with many interpolations, interrupting the connexion) Enoch describes more fully the ultimate felicity of the righteous (lviii.) in the light of eternal life (lviii. 3), and in the immediate presence of the 'Son of Man' (lxii. 14), and the judgement of the Messiah upon angels and men (lxi.—lxiii., lxix. 26—-29). The imagery of the 'Similitudes' is fine: and the thought is often an expansion of parts of Daniel (see the notes on vii. 9, 10, and p. 106 f.).

The Apocalypse of Baruch was written probably shortly after the destruction of Jerusalem by Titus (A.D. 70), at a time when the problem which seemed to the Jews so difficult of solution was, how God could have permitted such a disaster to fall upon His people. Baruch, after the Chaldaeans have carried off the mass of the people, having fasted (cf. Dan. x. 3) for seven days, is told to remain in Jerusalem in order to receive disclosures respecting the future; and, after a second fast (xii. 5), hears a voice telling him that the heathen also will receive their punishment in due time (xiii. 5): he debates at some length with God respecting the prosperity of the wicked and the sufferings of the righteous, but is given to understand that these anomalies will be adjusted in a future life. After a third fast, and prayer (ch. xxi.), Baruch sees the heavens opened (Ezek. i. 1), and is assured, in answer to his further questionings, that the time of redemption is not now far distant: 'Behold, the days come, and the books will be opened in which are written the sins of all those who have sinned, and the treasuries in which the righteousness of all those who have been righteous in creation is gathered' (xxiv. 1): the period of coming tribulation is divided into 12 times, each marked by its own woe (xxvi.-xxvii.); at the end of the twelfth time, the Messiah will be revealed, those who have fallen asleep in hope' will rise again, and a reign of happiness will begin upon earth (xxix.-xxx.). Soon afterwards Baruch has a vision of a great forest, with a vine growing opposite to it: the forest was laid low till only a single cedar remained standing; this, after being rebuked by the vine for its iniquities, was destroyed by fire, while the vine spread, and the plain around blossomed into flowers. The forest is explained to signify the

« السابقةمتابعة »