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signifies "he that embraces," or, "a wrestler," and seems to describe both his "embracing" by faith the promises of God, and his "wrestling" with God, as described ch. i. 12-17.
11. EZEKIEL. The third of the great prophets, began his ministry, B. C. 595; his prophecies are dated from the captivity of Jehoiachin, in which the prophet had also been carried away by Nebuchadnezzar, and placed on the banks of the Chebar, a river of Mesopotamia, where he received the Divine revelations recorded in his book. His name signifiying "the strength of God," "supported of God,"* "God is my strength," was descriptive of that confidence and fortitude which he displayed in reproving the discontented, calling the profane to repentance, and to acknowledge God's ways equal, and their own unequal. He directs the sincere who enquire, that they may know and perform their duty, and encourages the humble and pious with comfortable promises of temporal and eternal good. He was cotemporary with Jeremiah, and they remarkably confirmed each others predictions. "The Book of Ezekiel, is sometimes distributed by the following analysis, under different heads. After the three first chapters, in which, the appointment of the prophet is described, the wickedness and impending punishment of the Jews, especially of those remaining in Judea, are represented under different parables and visions, to the twentyfourth chapter inclusive. From thence, to the thirtysecond chapter, the prophet turns his attention to those nations who had unfeelingly triumphed over the Jews in their afflictions: predicting that destruction of the Ammonites, (xxv. 2-7,) Moabites, (ver. 8-11), Edomites, (ver. 12-14), Philistines, (ver. 15-17), which Nebuchadnezzar effected; and particularly, he foretels the
* See Cruden's Concordance.
+ See Gray's Key to Old Test.
ruin and desolation of Tyre and Sidon, (xxvi. xxvii. xxviii.) the fall of Egypt, (xxix. xxx.) and the base degeneracy of its future people, in a manner so forcible, in terms so accurately and minutely descriptive of their several fates and present condition, that it is highly interesting to trace the accomplishment of these prophecies in the accounts which are furnished by historians and travellers. From the thirty-second to the fortieth chapter, Ezekiel inveighs against the hypocrisy and murmurng spirit of his captive countrymen: encouraging them to resignation, by promises of deliverance, (xxxvi. 11; xxxvii. 12, 14-21); and by intimations of spiritual redemption, (xxiii. 11-16, 24-31.) In the two last chapters of this division, (viz. xxxviii. xxxix.) under the promised victories to be obtained over Gog and Magog, he undoubtedly predicts the final return of the Jews from their dispersion, in the latter days; with an obscurity, however, that can be dispersed only by the event. The nine last chapters of this book detail the description of a very remarkable vision of a new temple and city; of a new religion and polity, under the particulars of which is shadowed out the establishment of a future universal church." Gray.
12. OBADIAH, began his ministry, B. C. 588. He was
contemporary with Jeremiah and Ezekiel, and confirmed their predictions against the Edomites, (Jer. xxv. 15-21; xlix. 7-22; Ezek. xxv. 12-14; xxxv.) who had, upon many occasions, favoured the enemies of Judah, (2 Chron. xxviii. 17; Joel iii. 19). The prophet concludes with consolatory assurances of future restoration and prosperity to the Jews, to whom should arise deliverance from Zion; Saviours, who should judge the nations; and a spiritual kingdom, appropriated and consecrated to the Lord. These prophecies began to be completed about five years after, when Nebuchadnezzar ravaged Idumea, and dispossessed the Edomites of
much of Arabia Petra, which they never afterwards recovered; but they were still farther fulfilled in the conquests of the Maccabees over the remainder of the Edomites, (1 Macc. v. 3-65); and they received their final accomplishment in the advent of that Redeemer, whom preceding Saviours had foreshewn," Gray. 13. DANIEL, began his ministry, B. C. 569.* He was a descendant of the kings of Judah, and was carried, with other persons of high birth and consequence, captive to Babylon, by Nebuchadnezzar, B. C. 605. His wisdom and talents recommended him to the notice of the king, and, in time, advanced him to great rank and honour in the state; but he is principally distinguished by the piety, fidelity, humility, and integrity of his character; the holiness of his life; and the fortitude and constancy with which he glorified God in times of the greatest danger, and under trials the most appalling The visions and dreams recorded in the book of Daniel, furnish an historical portrait of future times. "They form," (says Dr. Hales) "a select class of prophecies, along with the diversified imagery, the sublime and magnificent apparatus of Isaiah, Ezekiel, and Zechariah; they possess the minute historical detail of Moses, and surpass them all in chronological precision and accuracy. They seemed designed by that ONE AND THE SAME SPIRIT, which dictated the whole, for a supplement to the rest, containing that further information necessary to make them intelligible to after ages."
Till the time of Daniel, the nations of the earth had been principally distinguished in prophecy, by the names of the first settlers in the different countries
* Blair, Prideaux, Bishop Newton, and others, date this event, B. C. 602, the year B. C, 569, is adopted from Dr. Hales, and preferred for reasons which will appear in the following pages.
+"The chronology and calculations of Daniel may be called the key of time." Poole's Annot.
peopled by the sons and descendants of Noah, as recorded in the tenth chapter of Genesis; but now, a new disposition took place, bearing, however, a strong reference to the original plan. The world was described by four great temporal empires, following each other in regular succession; viz. 1st, That of BABYLON, comprising the nations included under the prophetic curse of Noah upon Ham, (see the 1st Table of Prophecy, 2nd Period, C); 2nd, That of the MEDES and PERSIANS, formed of the nations proceeding from Shem, (D.); 3rd, and 4th, The empires of MACEDON and ROME, formed by the descendants of Japheth, (E.); and these were to be succeeded by a SPIRITUAL KINGDOM, the Christian, in which all the nations of the earth should be blessed; and in which, by the calling and admission of the Gentiles, the curse laid upon Ham, is virtually remitted. This scriptural division of history into settlements and empires remarkably coincides with that of heathen authors, into fabulous and authentic, (see p. 23-24 of this work); the former not ending till the first Olympiad, B. C. 776, and the latter, not commencing till the fifty-fifth, or, about the time of Cyrus. (See Raleigh's Hist. of the World.)
The fortunes of God's peculiar people, the Jews, remarkably interwoven with those of the temporal powers alluded to in the prophecies of Daniel, furnish, to the reflecting mind, one of the most satisfactory proofs of the omniscience and omnipresence of the DEITY, and of His providential government of the whole world; for, by this means, was added to the natural witness of "rain from heaven, and fruitful seasons," (Acts xiv. 17.) the moral one of a knowledge of His attributes and laws; which, being first revealed, inculcated, and inforced among the Jews, was, with them in their captivities, conveyed to the heathen nations that were made the instruments of God's anger; (the very wickedness of man being turned to HIS glory) and it was not until the four temporal empires in
question had been thus leavened with some knowledge of himself, that God called upon the nations whom " in times past" he had" suffered to walk in their own ways," "to repent" and "turn from their idolatrous vanities to the living God." Acts xiv. 15-16; xvii. 30. ·
The prophecies of Daniel have been so often, and so variously interpreted, by writers of, perhaps, equal authority, that it is absolutely necessary to have some fixed principles, in which all have agreed, to refer to, and, by the help of which, all differences of opinion may be considered only as exceptions to a general and undisputed rule. The necessity of such a plan, will be evident to all who have perused the respective comments of Sir Isaac Newton, Bishop Newton, Dean Prideaux, Dr. Hales, Mr. Faber, &c. &c. But even the diversities in opinion of these learned and pious men, afford an additional proof of the truth of prophecy; "many shall run to and fro, and knowledge shall be increased." Dan. xii. 4. The development of prophecy must be progressive, and it is an evident feature in the Divine scheme of salvation, to afford to every generation, as a test of faith, an anticipation "of things not seen as yet." The gradual and continual accomplishment of prophecy, affords a strong light which has a retrospective influence upon antecedent links of that great chain of evidence" which has been since the world began," Luke i. 70. Bishop Newton in his Dissertations on the Prophecies, vol. ii. p. 436, observes that, "obscurities there are, indeed, in the prophetic writings, for which, many good reasons may be assigned, and this, particularly, because prophecies are the only species of writing, which is designed more for the instruction of future ages, than the times wherein they are written. If the prophecies had been delivered in plainer terms, some persons might be for hastening their accomplishment, as others might attempt to defeat it; men's actings would not appear so free, nor God's providence so conspicuous in their completion. But though