What solid evidence is there for the unity of Isaiah?

Isaiah 6:11-13 records a revelation made by God to Isaiah at the beginning of his prophetic ministry (ca. 739 B.C). After he heard God's call and had been commissioned to preach to a people who would only harden their hearts against the truth, he asked the Lord with troubled heart, "Lord, how long?" Then Yahweh answered him, "Until cities are devastated and without inhabitant, houses are without people, and the land is utterly desolate, the Lord has removed men far away, and the forsaken places are many in the midst of the land" (NASB). Here we have a clear prediction of the total devastation and depopulation of Judah meted out by Nebuchadnezzar in 587 B.C, over 150 years later! This is of extreme importance as evidence, since all scholars of every viewpoint admit that Isaiah 6 is an authentic work of the eighth-century Isaiah.

Continuing on in v. 13, we read of the return of a remnant of the exiles back to the land of Israel, to found a new commonwealth from which "a holy seed" (zera' qodes) will arise. Literally translated, v. 13 says, "But [there will] still be a tenth-part in it [i.e., the exiled people], and it will return [wesabah] and it will be for burning [i.e., subjected to fiery trials], like a terebinth or like an oak, which in [their] felling [still have] a root-stump in them, a holy seed [shall be] its root-stump." In other words, although the parent tree was hewn down by the Chaldean conquest and deportation in 587, yet from around the base of the stump a new sucker would spring up that would some day grow into a strong and vigorous tree. That is to say, the Fall of Jerusalem and the destruction of Solomon's temple would not really mean the end for God's people. After their exile, they would return and establish a new state for God and prepare the way for the Holy Seed.

Crucial to this interpretation is the translation of wesabah, which is often construed to have mere adverbial force, tantamount to "again" (i.e., "and it will again be subject to burning"). But in this case we have proof positive that Isaiah himself did not so interpret it. On the contrary, he must have understood it as meaning "It shall return" (from the verb sub., "to return"). We know this because of the name he gave to his firstborn son, Shear-jashub, mentioned just three verses later. That name means "a remnant will return," as all scholars admit. Where did Isaiah learn about an exile from which the future people of Israel would return? From 6:13! The same verb sub is used both in 6:13 and in 7:3. This leaves no ground for doubt, then, that back in 739 B.C. Isaiah the prophet knew by revelation what was going to happen in 587 B.C, when Jerusalem fell, and also what would happen in 537 B.C, when the exiles would return from Babylon to the Holy Land by permission of King Cyrus of Persia—an event that was not to occur until more than two hundred years later.

Isaiah 6:13 therefore destroys the basic premise of the entire Deutero-Isaiah theory, which assumes that it would be impossible for an eighth-century Hebrew prophet to foretell or even foreknow the events of 587 and and 539-537 B.C. (the Fall of Babylon and the return of the first settlers to Jerusalem). It was on this premise that J.C. Doederlein (1745-92) built his entire argument and based his case for some unknown author living quite near to 539 B.C, who began his prophetic composition with chapter 40 (with its awareness that the Babylonian exile has taken place and that there is now a prospect of their return to Palestine) and ending with chapter 66.

In other words, Doederlein assumed that no genuine predictive prophecy was possible, and that no eighth-century prophet could have seen that far into the future. His theory was built on antisupernatural presuppositions, and so also were the elaborations of this theory by J.G. Eichhorn (ca. 1790), H.F.W. Gesenius (ca. 1825), E.F.K. Rosenmueller (ca. 1830), and Bernhard Duhm (ca. 1890)—who opted for three Isaiahs instead of just two. Every one of them assumed the impossibility of genuine prophecy by a personal God; therefore every apparent evidence of it had to be explained away as "prophecy after the fulfillment" (vaticinium ex eventu). But Isaiah 6:13 cannot be explained away as prediction concocted after the event since its time of composition was unquestionably in the 730s B.C.

Second, the internal evidence of Isaiah 40-66 speaks decisively against the possibility of post-exilic composition. Many of the same evils deplored and denounced by Isaiah 1 and 5 are still prevalent in "Deutero-Isaiah." Compare Isaiah 1:15: "Yea, when you make many prayers, I will not hear [you]; your hands are full of blood" and 59:3,7: "For your hands are defiled with blood, and your fingers with iniquity; your lips have spoken lies, your tongue has muttered perverse-ness....Their feet run to evil, and they make haste to shed innocent blood." Compare also Isaiah 10:1-2 with Isaiah 59:4-9.

Moreover, there is a revolting hypocrisy that corrupts the religious life of the nation. Compare 29:13: "Forasmuch as this people draw near me with their mouth, and with their lips do honour me, but have removed their heart far from me, and their fear toward me is taught by the precept of men" and Isaiah 58:2,4: "Yet they seek me daily, and delight to know my ways, as a nation that did righteousness, and forsook not the ordinance of their God; they ask of me the ordinances of justice; they take delight in approaching to God.... Behold, ye fast for strife and debate, and to smite with the fist of wickedness."

Third, idolatry is set forth in Isaiah 40-66 as a current vice in Israel. The prophet addresses his countrymen as flagrant idol worshipers in 57:4-5: "Against whom do ye sport yourselves? ... Enflaming yourselves with idols under every green tree, slaying the children in the valleys under the clifts of the rocks?" Compare with this Isaiah 1:29: "They shall be ashamed of the oaks which ye have desired" (oak groves being the setting for ritual prostitution and excesses connected with Baal worship). The reference to infant sacrifice suggests the conditions prevailing during the reign of Manasseh (697-642 B.C), who made a practice of sacrificing babies to Moloch and Adrammelech in the Valley of Hinnom (2 Kings 21:6; 2 Chron. 33:6). Isaiah 57:7 makes a clear allusion to sacrifice on the "high places," which was practiced in Judah during the time of Ahaz (743-728 B.C.) and Manasseh. Again, in  Isaiah 65:2-4 we read:  “I  have

spread out my hands all the day to a rebellious people.... a people that provoke me to my face continually, sacrificing in gardens and burning incense upon bricks; that sit among the graves and lodge in the secret places; that eat swine's flesh; the abomination, and the mouse. They shall come to an end, all of them,' says Yahweh."

These references to the practice of idolatry by the Israelites demonstrate conclusively that the author is writing in a historical setting prior to the Babylonian exile. This is so for two reasons.

First, the mountainous terrain, the high and lofty hills, are not to be found in Babylonia at all; for there is nothing but a broad, flat, alluvial plain. Moreover, the trees that are mentioned as possibilities for making wooden images out of and then using the scrap for the stove or fireplace—the cedar, the cypress, and the oak (41:19; 44:14)—are all unknown to Babylonia. Therefore, if we have any respect at all to the internal evidence of the text itself, we have to conclude (Doederlein to the contrary notwithstanding) that Isaiah 40-66 could never have been composed in Babylonia.

Second, the references to idol worship exclude the possibility (advocated by Duhm and many of the later scholars) that Isaiah 40-66 was really composed after the Fall of Jerusalem, up in Lebanon, and partly back in Judah, after the Fall of Babylon. The reason that this possibility is excluded is that only the earnest, pious men of religious conviction were involved in the resettlement of Jerusalem and Judah after Cyrus gave permission for the Jewish exiles to return to their homeland. Only a mere 10 percent of them responded to the invitation (about fifty thousand in all), and their expressed purpose was to reestablish a commonwealth dedicated to the worship and service of Yahweh as the one true God.

We have positive control evidence that no idolatry was practiced in post-Exilic Judah within the sixth and fifth centuries B.C. That evidence comes from the writings of Haggai, Zechariah, Ezra, Nehemiah, and Malachi. In the prophecies and historical records of these five post-Exilic authors, we meet with a good deal of denunciation of sins that were prevalent among their countrymen at that time; but there is never a mention of idolatry in Israel. There was intermarriage with foreign women of idolatrous background, there was oppression of the poor by the rich, there was desecration of the Sabbath, there was a withholding of tithes, and there was the presentation of diseased or defective animals on the altar to God. But there was never a mention of idolatry—which had been emphasized by the pre-Exilic prophets as the cardinal sin of the nation, the very particular sin for which God would bring down on them the weight of His wrath and the total destruction of their country. There is no other logical deduction to draw from the evidence of the text of Isaiah 40-66 but that it demands a pre-Exilic setting, which absolutely destroys the Deutero-Isaiah and the Trito-Isaiah theories. Such antisupernatural hypotheses can be maintained only in the teeth of the objective evidence of the Hebrew text, on which they were allegedly founded.

The final consideration we adduce at this point is the attitude of Christ and the New Testament authors toward the authorship of the Book of Isaiah. Consider the following: (1) Matthew 12:17-18 quotes Isaiah 42:1 as "that which was spoken by Isaiah the prophet." (2) Matthew 3:3 quotes Isaiah 40:3 as "spoken by the prophet Isaiah." (3) Luke 3:4 quotes Isaiah 40:3-5 as "in the book of the words of Isaiah the prophet." (4) Acts 8:28 reports that the Ethiopian eunuch was "reading Isaiah the prophet," specifically Isaiah 53:7-8. He then inquired of Philip, "Of whom is the prophet speaking, of himself or of some other man?" (5) Romans 10:20 quotes Isaiah 65:1, stating, "Isaiah is very bold and says...." (6) In John 12:38-41 we find two quotations from Isaiah: Isaiah 53:1 (in v.38) and Isaiah 6:9-10 (in v.40). Then in v.41 John affirms concerning these two verses, one from Isaiah "I" and the other from Isaiah "II": "These things Isaiah said when he saw His glory and spoke of Him." This surely implies that the inspired apostle believed that both Isaiah 6 and Isaiah 53 were written by the same Isaiah.

In view of this decisive New Testament testimony, it is hard to see how those who claim to be Evangelical can espouse the Deutero-Isaiah theory, or even regard it as a legitimate option for Evangelicals to hold. Or are there really Evangelicals who can embrace antisupernatural theories that completely deny the possibility of predictive prophecy and still call themselves Evangelical? It is questionable whether they can do so with integrity!

How can Isaiah 7:14 be considered a prophecy of the virgin birth of Christ? Isaiah 7:16 seems to preclude this entirely, and Isaiah 8:3 seems to fulfill the prophecy. 

In a time of great national crisis, the kingdom of Judah was threatened with conquest by the northern alliance of apostate Samaria and pagan Damascus (Isa. 7:4-6). Had they succeeded, Judah would have become a mere satellite to Samaria and later would have been destroyed as a nation by the Assyrian invaders (who destroyed Samaria itself within fifteen years of this time).

Since Judah was governed by a wicked and ungodly king named Ahaz, its position as the one Bible-believing nation on the face of the earth was gravely imperiled. Therefore its greatest need was for a deliverer who would rescue it from sin and exalt it to a position of great spiritual force, witnessing to the rest of mankind about the way of salvation. In these prophecies concerning Immanuel, the Lord met Judah's needs.

Isaiah 7:14 promises that "the Lord himself shall give you a sign; Behold, a virgin shall conceive, and bear a son, and shall call his name Immanuel [i.e., 'God with us']." Who is this sign to be? In what sense will he be "God with us"? From the references that follow, it is quite apparent that there is to be a type of Immanuel who will be born in the near future as proof that God is with His people to deliver them.

Yet also an antitype will be born in the more remote future who will be both God and man, and He will deliver His people not only from human oppressors but also from sin and guilt. Furthermore, He will reign as David's descendant and successor forever and ever. Thus the twofold need will be met both by the typical Immanuel and by the antitypical divine Redeemer.

Isaiah 7:16 clearly refers to a child who is to be born within a very few years: "For before the boy will know enough to refuse evil and choose good [i.e., before he reaches the age of full moral responsibility], the land whose two kings you dread [i.e., Pekah of Samaria and Rezin of Damascus] will be forsaken" ( NASB). Normally at the age of twelve or thirteen, the Jewish lad was considered old enough to assume full responsibility for his own sins; then he would learn to read and expound the Pentateuch as a bar-mitsvah (a "son of the commandment").


Now if this promise was given in 735 B.C, and if the time-indicator child was born within a year or so thereafter, then he would have been twelve by 722 B.C., when Samaria fell to the Assyrian besiegers and was permanently destroyed as a nation. Damascus had already been stormed and pillaged by the troops of Tiglath-pileser III in 732. This earlier date was also predicted, for in Isaiah 8:4 we read of the son who is to be born to Isaiah by the prophetess: "Before the boy knows how to cry out 'my father' or 'my mother,' the wealth of Damascus and the spoils of Samaria will be carried away before the king of Assyria" (NASB).

By 732 the boy who served as the type of Immanuel would be two years of age, and therefore old enough to say "Daddy" and "Mommy." Quite clearly this little son of the prophet who bore the God-given name of Maher-shalal-hash-baz (see Isa. 8:3) was to be the time-indicator for the fulfillment of this prediction of Judah's deliverance from the current crisis.

At the time Isaiah 7:14 was given, the "prophetess" mentioned in 8:3 would have been a virgin and would have been known to King Ahaz and his court as the woman to whom Isaiah (presumably a widower by this time, having lost through death the mother of Shear-jashub mentioned in 7:3) was engaged. Before they married, the Lord revealed to Isaiah that the first child he would have by this godly young woman would be a boy: and the Lord told him what name to call him: "Hasten to the booty, the spoil is running away!" (which is the meaning of Maher-shalal-hash-baz, intended as an encouragement to the Assyrian invaders against the Damascus-Samaria coalition).

By the time this boy reached the age of twelve the invaded regions of Israel would be so utterly laid waste by the Assyrians that much of it would revert to pastureland; and the erstwhile cultivator of orchards and wheatfields would find his property reduced to a mere "heifer and a pair of sheep" (Isa. 7:21), and he would be living on a diet of curds and wild honey (vv. 15,22). Clearly, then, Isaiah's second son was to serve as the type of the coming Immanuel.

Yet it is also apparent from what follows that there is a far greater person in view, who will come as the divine-human antitype and will in His own person be Immanuel, God Incarnate. It is significant that Palestine is from that time on to be known as the land of Immanuel (see Isa. 8:8: "your land, O Immanuel"). This is something far more meaningful than the land of Maher-shalal-hash-baz. It is because of Immanuel that the people and land of Israel are guaranteed a key role in God's program of redemption. There will come that mighty Redeemer of whom it is promised in 9:6; "For a child will be born to us, a son will be given to us; and the government will rest on his shoulders; and his name will be called Wonderful, Counselor, Mighty God, Father of Eternity [as the Hebrew 'abi-'ad should properly be rendered], Prince of Peace." Verse 7 continues to speak of His messianic rule. Plainly, this refers to God Incarnate, the divine-human King, Jesus Christ, whose sovereign rule will eternally endure, because He Himself will never pass away.

In confirmation of this Christ reference of Isaiah 7:14, the New Testament says in Matthew 1:22-23: "Now all this took place that what was spoken by the Lord through the prophet might be fulfilled, saying, 'Behold, the virgin shall be with child, and shall bear a Son, and they shall call His name Immanuel,' which translated means, 'God with us'" (NASB).

Perhaps a brief comment should be made concerning the word for "virgin" used in Isaiah 7:14. The root meaning of 'almah is "maiden" or "young woman." It is therefore not as precise a word for virgin as the Hebrew betulah, which is defined in Genesis 24:16 (in reference to Rebekah) as a young woman who has never had sexual relations.

Yet it is also true that in the seven occurrences of 'almah in the singular throughout the Hebrew Scriptures, the word never refers to a maiden who has lost her virginity but only to one who is in fact unmarried and chaste— as in Genesis 24:43, where Rebekah the virgin (betulah) is also referred to as an 'almah. By Hebrew usage, then, this word is about equivalent to the idea of "virgin," even though it is less precise than betulah.

It should be observed that 'almah was an ideal term for the twofold aspect of the Immanuel prophecy in Isaiah 7:14. The future mother of the antitype, Isaiah's wife-to-be, was a virgin up until the night of her wedding. But the Virgin Mary was a virgo intacta at the time the angel announced to her that she would become the mother of Jesus. Joseph had no carnal knowledge of her until after her firstborn Son was delivered, according to Matthew 1:24-25.

If Christ is God the Son, how is it that he is called "the everlasting Father" in Isaiah 9:6?

Isaiah 9:6 says of the coming Savior, the God-man Jesus Christ, "His name shall be called Wonderful, Counselor, Might God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace." At least, this is the way it is usually translated. But the basis for so doing is very dubious, since the Hebrew reads 'abi 'ad, which literally means "Father of Eternity." It is true that both 'ad and 'olam are often used as constructs in an adjectival sense and might be so construed here, were it not for the context. The preceding portion of the verse stresses His sonship in terms suggestive of His incarnation, in such a way as to make an assertion of His paternity or paternal status within the Godhead seem quite incongruous. For this reason we should understand this phrase in the most literal way, that He is father of (that is, the author of) 'ad, a term meaning "perpetuity," used at least nineteen times in connection with 'olam ("age," "eternity"). It usually points to the indefinitely continuing future and is often used to imply "eternal" or "everlasting," in much the same way as 'olam is. In other words, 'ad and 'olam seem to be nearly synonymous and may even be substituted for each other without any change in meaning.

In view of the above, it seems reasonable to understand the phrase '"bi 'ad as "Father of Eternity" in the sense of "Author of Eternity"—not in the sense of beginningless and endless eternity (such as would be predicated of God), but in the sense of all the stretch of time between the beginning of creation and its ultimate termination. In other words, this title points to Christ as the Creator of the world—the world viewed as a time continuum—the fullest statement of which is found in John 1:3 ("All things came into being through Him ...").


Who is Lucifer in Isaiah 14:12? Satan or the king of Babylon?

The passage involved is rendered as follows: "How you have fallen from heaven, O star of the morning [mg.: 'Lit., Helel; i.e., shining one'], son of the dawn! You have been cut down to earth, you who have weakened the nations!" (NASB). The title Helel, which KJV (following the Latin Vulgate) translates as "Lucifer," is rendered Heosphoros in the Septuagint (meaning "Dawn-bringer" and referring to the morning star); the Syriac Peshitta simply gives it as a proper name closely resembling Helel, i.e., 'Aylel. A possible cognate in Arabic is hilalun, "a new moon." If this is derived from the root halal in Hebrew (halla in Arabic), which means "shine brightly" (the Akkadian cognate ellu is an adjective meaning "bright"), then we may understand Helel as meaning the "Shining One." Obviously this is a poetic name for the person or entity who is addressed in this passage (somewhat like Jeshurun, "the Upright," which is applied to Israel in Deut. 32:15; 33:5, 26; also in Isa, 44:2). (somewhat like Jeshurun, "the Upright," which is applied to Israel in Deut. 32:15; 33:5,26; also in Isa. 44:2). A similar designation for Assyria (or a specific king of Assyria) in Hosea 5:13 and 10:6 is Yare ("Let him contend," or "[one who] contends"—from the verb ri, "strive, contend, dispute"). These appellations probably do not refer to any one historic personage.

Some speculation has been devoted to the various possibilities of identification of this king of Babylon with Nabonidus (as Duhm and Marti suggested) or Belshazzar, the last kings of Babylon; but the arrogant self-confidence and overweening ambition expressed in v. 13 of this chapter can hardly be reconciled with the declining power and beleaguered status of Babylonia during the last two decades of its existence as an empire. Only Nebuchadnezzar himself could have entertained such extravagant ideas of achieving complete supremacy over earth and heaven. (O. Proksch argued for this identification in his Jesaja I, Kommentar zum Alten Testament [Leipzig, 1930].) But as W.H. Cobb pointed out ("The Ode in Isaiah XIV," Journal of Biblical Literature 15 [1896]: ad loc), Nebuchadnezzar "was very far from being a cruel oppressor." J. Muilenburg ("The Book of Isaiah chaps. 40-66," in G. Buttrick, ed., Interpreters Bible [Nashville: Abingdon, 1956]. ad loc.) contended that "in many ways it appears that the Babylonian rule was neither tyrannical nor oppressive, certainly not in comparison with the role of Assyria." (Seth Erlandsson, in The Burden of Babylon [Lund: Gleerup, 1970, pp. 109-27], has a fine survey of modern scholarly discussion concerning the interpretation of this chapter.)

This elimination of possible candidates for identification with the "king of Babylon" in Isaiah 14:4-23 leads to the conclusion that this figure was really intended to be a comprehensive personification for Babylon as a whole, as one of the series of God-defying world powers that met its doom when its day of judgment came. It is highly significant that this oracle concluded (in vv.24-27) with a decree of destruction to be visited on "Assyria" in the land of Israel, and, indeed, on all the Gentile nations as well (v.26). This prophecy was therefore given to Isaiah sometime prior to the Assyrian invasion of 701 B.C., which resulted in shattering losses for the apparently invincible army of Sennacherib. Yet it also has in view the future rise and temporary supremacy of the city of Babylon, even though in Isaiah's day it was a mere subject province of the Assyrian Empire.

All this has a bearing on the identification of Lucifer, the Shining One, who is tauntingly addressed as the "son of the dawn" (sahar). His proud boast (vv. 13-14) that he will ascend to heaven and raise his throne above the stars of God and sit on the mount of assembly in the recesses of the north (sapon, a possible allusion to the fabled Mount Sapunu of Canaanite mythology, the Mount Olympus of the Ugaritic epics) points to a level of expectation far beyond that conceivable by any human ruler concerning himself. It is for this reason that Helel must be identified with Satan himself, as the arch-rebel of heaven, who was cast out of God's presence and glorious abode and consigned to earth and hell as his proper sphere. The Lord Jesus seems to have had this passage in mind when, after receiving the report of His disciples' success in casting out demons, He declared, "I was watching Satan fall from heaven like lightning" (Luke 10:18, NASB). In the Greek this statement uses about the same words as the Septuagint of Isaiah 14:12, except that "lightning" (astrape) has replaced "Lucifer" (Hedsphoros). We may reasonably conclude that Jesus identified Satan with Helel.

How are we then to relate Satan with the "king of Babylon"? Plainly the king himself is viewed as human, for he is the father of descendants. Verse 21 proclaims the command: "Prepare for his sons a place of slaughter because of the iniquity of their fathers" (NASB). In other words, the Empire of Babylon will go down in defeat and ruin, and the survivors of the coming catastrophe (marked by the Fall of Babylon to the Medes and Persians in 539 B.C.) are to be decimated and forever bereft of political power. On the other hand, the fallen state of Chaldean Babylon (picturesquely described as a maggot-ridden corpse moldering in a grave, now brought down to inhabit Sheol [v. 11]) is greeted by the spirits of the dead rulers of earlier civilizations with taunts and jeers. It is they who address fallen Babylon as the Helel cast down ignominiously from heaven, after he has uttered his foolish and extravagant boasts. What we have here, then, is the defeat of Satan's henchmen mirroring the defeat of Satan himself. This clearly implies that the Wicked One was the animating and inspiring force that manipulated Babylon—and, in all probability, Assyria as well.

It is noteworthy that the four-empire statue of Nebuchadnezzar's dream, as set forth in Daniel 2:35, possesses a certain identity throughout all four periods involved, right down until the time of the End, when the fifth kingdom (the millennial rule of Christ) shatters the whole structure to pieces. In all likelihood it is Satan who is to be the integrative principle behind each of the four. It is for this reason that Babylon emerges in the End Time as the symbol of the corrupt world culture and world church, which is to be overthrown in a sudden disaster of unparalleled severity. Revelation 14:8 says, "And another angel, a second one, followed, saying, 'Fallen, fallen is Babylon the great.'" The fall of earthly Babylon is followed by the fall of the satanic dragon himself (Rev. 20:2). This seems to confirm the involvement of two personalities in Isaiah 14 as well, with both of them brought under the fearful judgment of almighty God— both the satanic principal and his human agents as well. It is very dramatic how this final moment of arrogant contempt and defiance toward the God of the Hebrews as expressed by King Belshazzar at his birthday banquet is brought to an end by the sinister handwriting on the palace wall, announcing irreversible and sudden doom, "That same night Belshazzar the king of the Chaldeans was slain" (Dan. 5:30).

Does not the explicit mention of Cyrus the Great by name in Isaiah 44:28 and 45:1 compel us to adopt a sixth-century date for this portion of Isaiah?

This question presupposes the inability of God to predict any future leaders in human history—by name at least. No logical reason can be found for this assumption, unless it can be proven that none of the other instances of specific naming in the Old Testament prophets can have been authentic either but are all the result of pious fraud. Yet such a contention can be easily refuted by the data of Scripture itself. In 1 Kings 13:2 it is recorded that a certain prophet from Judah, who visited Jeroboam's new sanctuary in Bethel (ca. 930 B.C.), invoked God's curse on this new altar at which Jeroboam was officiating and specifically predicted the name of the future king who would someday destroy this altar. The prophet specified that it would be a king named "Josiah." In 2 Kings 23:15 we read the account of how Josiah actually fulfilled this prediction around 620 B.C., over three hundred years later.

In Micah 5:2 the prophet names the birthplace of the future Messiah as being "Bethlehem." Now there is no possibility that Micah was composed after the birth of Jesus (ca. 6 B.C.[ actually 5 B.C.; see  the  study  on  this  website  proving it - Keith Hunt] ). (Actual fragments of the Hebrew text of Micah in a third-century B.C. manuscript of the Minor Prophets were found in Qumran cave 4 [cf. F. M. Cross and S. Talmon, Qumran and the History of the Biblical Text (Cambridge: Harvard University, 1975), p. 406].) Since Jesus was unquestionably born in Bethlehem, the above-mentioned presupposition against specific naming is untenable.

Furthermore, it is important to observe that such a specific naming of captive Judah's future liberator was especially appropriate for Isaiah's own generation. During the reign of Manasseh, the moral breakdown and disregard of God's Word as manifested by all classes of Judean society made the doom of Juda and Jerusalem absolutely certain. The warnings of Leviticus 26 and Deuteronomy 28 would surely be fulfilled. But what reasonable hope could remain of the Israelites ever returning to their ancestral home once it had been completely depopulated and the survivors all driven off into exile? There was none whatever, except for a rather vague indication in Leviticus 26:40-45, and perhaps a few hints elsewhere in pre-Isaianic Scripture.

If the future generation living at the time of the Fall of Babylon in 539 B.C. was to have any clear confirmation that the God of Abraham and Moses was still watching over their national destiny, and was ready to do for them a work of restoration that had never been the experience of any other exiled nation, then they needed a very striking and decisive token of His continuing favor and care. This could hardly be communicated in any other way so decisively as if God back in Isaiah's time would actually specify the name of their liberator. As the discouraged and disheartened exiles could hear of the rise of Cyrus and his successive victories over the Medes and the Lydians, they would remember Isaiah's prophecy concerning this man and would have faith to believe that God would really do a new thing on their behalf and would restore them to their land.

The revelation of the very name of the future liberator is presented as the climax of the entire prophecy in chapter 44 of Isaiah and then continues on with this theme through the first portion of chapter 45. It cannot be regarded as a later insertion, for it serves as the capstone of the arch in the structure of the passage in which it occurs. Therefore, we may rest assured that it is an authentic prediction of a pivotal event in holy history, destined to take place over 150 years later than the date of the prophecy itself.


How can Jeremiah 7:22-23 be reconciled with Exodus 20:24 and the rest of the sacrificial ordinances attributed to Moses in the Pentateuch?

Jeremiah 7:22-23 quotes God as saying to Israel: "For I did not speak to your fathers, or command them in the day that I brought them out of the land of Egypt, concerning burnt offerings and sacrifices. But this is what I commanded them, saying, 'Obey My voice, and I will be your God, and you will be My people; and you will walk in all the way which I command you, that it may be well with you'" (NASB). This sounds like a denial of any sacrificial requirements whatever back in the days of Moses, at least insofar as divine sanction is concerned. Yet many chapters containing these various provisions concerning offerings and sacrifices are introduced by the rubric "And Yahweh spoke to Moses and Aaron, saying,..."

Liberal scholars invariably point to the Jeremiah passage as proving that the sacrificial regulations of the Mosaic Code were unknown in the seventh century B.C. as having any sanction from God or from Moses himself. This deduction is totally without foundation, however. Jeremiah 7:22-23 refers quite clearly to what God said to Moses and the Israelites in Exodus 19:5: "Now then, if you will indeed obey My voice and keep My covenent, then you shall be My own possession among all the peoples... and you shall be to Me a kingdom of priests and a holy nation" [NASB]). Apart from the Passover ordinance in Exodus 12, which had nothing to do with offerings on an altar, no sacrificial requirements were made by God to the Israelites until chapter 20, when the Ten Commandments were promulgated and the first reference to a sacrificial altar appeared in v.24.

It should be carefully observed that the whole thrust of Jeremiah 7 is to the effect that for sacrificial worship to be acceptable to God, worshipers must come to the altar with yielded and believing hearts, with a sincere purpose to do God's will. Verses 22-23 then point out that in the very book that records God's deliverance of the enslaved Hebrew people from Egyptian bondage, the first essential was a heartfelt commitment to a covenant relationship to God. They were to understand themselves as a holy people, called out to a new life of total obedience to the known will of God. Apart from that surrender of heart, that pledge of their soul to live to the glory of God, no acts of ritual or formalized worship could avail to please God.

In point of fact, then, God never said anything to them at the beginning—"in the day that I brought them out of the land of Egypt"—about offerings or sacrifices. What He did emphasize to them was the commitment of their hearts to Him with a full purpose to obey His will. Without that purpose, acts of religion mean nothing but abominable hypocrisy. Isaiah 1:11-17 and Amos 5:21-26 teach exactly that same principle.


Which king is involved in Jeremiah 27:1-11, Jehoiakim or Zedekiah?

The Masoretic text reads: "In the beginning of the reign of Jehoiakim, the son of Josiah king of Judah, this word came to Jeremiah from Yahweh." The KJV adheres to this; so does the ASV, with the marginal note: "Properly, Zedekiah." The NASB has "In the beginning of the reign of Zedekiah the son of Josiah," with the marginal note: "Many mss. read, Jehoiakim." The NIV has "Early in the reign of Zedekiah," with the following footnote: "A few Hebrew manuscripts and Syriac...; most Hebrew manuscripts Jehoiakim." The Greek Septuagint omits this first verse altogether and commences the chapter with v.2. Even v.3 of this chapter militates against the correctness of the Masoretic reading, for it reads, "Send word to the king of Edom ... Moab ... Tyre ... Sidon by the messengers who come to Jerusalem to Zedekiah king of Judah."

How likely is it that an oracle of God would be transmitted to Jehoiakim in 608 or 607 B.C, at a time when Pharaoh Necho of Egypt was the overlord of Palestine (subsequent to his victory at Megiddo in 609), and Nebuchadnezzar had not even made an appearance in western Asia (his victory at Carchemish came about three years later than the beginning of Jehoiakim's reign)? Moreover, the actual contents of this oracle point to a collective embassage to Zedekiah, rather than Jehoiakim, sent to the Judean court by the surrounding nations (not including Egypt). It would seem, then, that the Masoretic text contains its own refutation of the reading "Jehoiakim" in v.l.

Textual authorities suspect that at some point in the transmission of the Sopherim-Masoretic text a scribe inadvertently copied in the words of Jeremiah 26:1 as the heading for chapter 27. This seems to be a plausible explanation for this textual error. The original copy undoubtedly read "Zedekiah" instead of "Jehoiakim" in 27:1.

Please explain Jeremiah 31:31, with its prophecy of the "new covenant." Does this prophecy refer only to the New Testament church, or does it await fulfillment in the days when Israel will be converted to faith in Christ on a national level?

This remarkable prediction very clearly found its first fulfillment in the raising up of the New Testament church in the days of the apostles, beginning with the outpouring of the Holy Spirit on the 120 believers at the Feast of Pentecost, after the bodily resurrection of our Lord Jesus Christ. Jeremiah 31:31-33 reads as follows: '"Behold, days are coming,' declares the Lord, 'when I will make a new covenant with the house of Israel and with the house of Judah, not like the covenant which I made with their fathers in the day I took them by the hand to bring them out of the land of Egypt. My covenant which they broke, although I was a husband to them [or, according to another interpretation,  should rather be rendered 'so that I rejected them,' as Heb. 8:9 suggests],' declares the Lord. But this is the covenant which I will make with the house of Israel after those days,' declares the Lord, 'I will put My law within them, and on their heart I will write it; and I will be their God, and they shall be My people.'" (NASB).

The context of this passage in Jeremiah clearly refers to a restoration of national Israel after the close of the Babylonian captivity; the specific pre-

dictions of the rebuilding of the Tower of Hananel, the Corner Gate, the hill of Gareb, the wadi of the Kidron, and the Horse Gate that follow in vv.38-40 found a preliminary fulfillment, at least in the days of Nehemiah (446-445 B.C.), as attested in Nehemiah 3:1,24,28. But the inauguration of the new covenant itself awaited the bestowal of the Holy Spirit as a permanent indwelling Paraclete, according to the promise of Christ Himself in John 14:17: "You know Him because He abides with you, and will be in you" (NASB).

Jesus made it clear that the Spirit could not be bestowed on believers until after his death on the cross and His subsequent victory over sin and death at the Resurrection. "For if I do not go away, the Paraclete shall not come to you; but if I go, I will send Him to you" (John 16:7). The Holy Spirit was poured out on the church (which then consisted only of Jewish believers) at Pentecost (fulfilling the promise of Joel 2:28-32 [3:1-5 according to the Masoretic text]), and thus inaugurated in a miraculous, dynamic way the age of the new covenant. From then on believers are said to be dwelling places or temples of God the Holy Spirit (1 Cor. 6:19; 1 Peter 2:5), who is Himself the essence of God's law (torah) referred to in Jeremiah 31:33. Because the Holy Spirit dwells within the souls or hearts of the born-again believers, that law is truly written on their hearts.

As we have pointed out, the church at Pentecost consisted almost entirely of Jewish Christians and so continued for some years, until the conversion of the centurion Cornelius and his household, when the Gentiles were welcomed into the fellowship of the redeemed. The Jewish apostle Paul made it clear in Romans 2:28-29 that in the age of the new covenant (even more clearly than under the old covenant, when Gentile converts were only occcasionally added to the ranks of redeemed Israel), God accepted those who were spiritually circumcised—whether Hebrews or Gentiles— as true Jews (that is, saved believers, children of God under the covenant of grace). He accounted them as true children of Abraham, by faith (Gal. 3:7,29). In the course of the apostolic age, the membership of the Christian church was recruited largely from the ranks of the Gentiles, both because there were more of them to recruit and because the gospel message was obviously superior to their degenerate pagan beliefs (the Jews already had the Old Testament). Note that Hebrews 8:6-13 applies this Jeremiah passage to the first-century Christian church, contemporary with the author. On the other hand, it is quite clear that the raising up of the New Testament Jewish-Gentile church did not furnish complete fulfillment for Jeremiah 31:31-33. As we have already noted, the context shows that in the latter days national Israel is going to experience a life-transforming faith resulting in its becoming spiritually born again. This same promise is clearly repeated in Ezekiel 36:24-28:

For I will take you from the nations, gather you from all lands, and bring you into your own land. Then I will sprinkle clean water on you, and you will be clean; I will cleanse you from all your filthiness and from all your idols. Moreover, I will give you a new heart and put a new spirit within you; and I will remove the heart of stone from your flesh and give you a heart of flesh. And I will put My Spirit within you and cause you to walk in My statutes, and you will be careful to observe My ordinances (NASB).

This gracious promise is in this context addressed to the captivity of Israel during the time of the Babylonian exile. Here again, then, there is a clear prophecy pertaining to Israel as a nation—the same nation that had prior to the Babylonian exile fallen into idolatry and unfaithfulness (under the old covenant). As we turn to the New Testament, which so strongly affirms a preliminary fulfillment in the raising up of the New Testament Jewish-Gentile church, we find that Paul likewise makes it clear that a national awakening and conversion movement is in store for national Israel in the last days. He reveals in Romans 11:25-27:

For I do not want you, brethren, to be uninformed of this mystery [the restoration of Israel],... that a partial hardening has happened to Israel until the fulness of the Gentiles has come in; and thus all Israel [i.e., true, spiritual Israel—all the true children of Abraham by faith] will be saved.... And this is My covenant with them, when I take away their sins (NASB).

Here, then, we have a clear case of two-stage fulfillment of Old Testament prophecy: Jeremiah 31:31-33 has been fulfilled in the New Testament church; and it will be consummated in the last days when there shall be a major national awakening among the Jewish people [ISRAEL  PEOPLE,  ALL  13  TRIBES  -  THE  JEWS  ARE  ONLY  3  TRIBES  -  Keith Hunt] and they turn to the Lord Jesus as their true Messiah and Savior (Zech. 12:10).

It is stated in Jeremiah 36:30 that Jehoiakim "shall have none to sit upon the throne of David." Yet in 2 Kings 24:6 and 2 Chronicles 36:9 we read that his son Jehoiachin reigned in his stead. Isn't this a contradiction? 

The point of this sentence of doom on Jehoiakim (who had just sliced up Jeremiah's written prophecies and cast them into the fire) was that he would have no dynasty to succeed him. In fulfillment of this condemnation, it turned out that in 597 B.C., when Jehoiakim died, his son Jehoiachin took over Jerusalem for a mere three months, before it fell to the besieging armies of Nebuchadnezzar. Probably there was no official coronation ceremony during that period of unrest as the siege continued. At any rate, that son was not permitted to remain on the throne of Judah from that time on; rather, it was Zedekiah, his uncle, who was installed as a vassal king under the Chaldean Empire, and Jehoiachin was dragged off to captivity in Babylon, from which he never returned.

It should be noted that when the Hebrew verb yasab ("sit enthroned") is used of a king, it implies a certain degree of permanence rather than so short a time as ninety days. As Jehoiakim's son, Jehoiachin was not permitted to sit on the throne and carry on the career of the Davidic dynasty. On the contrary, he was removed; and no son or descendant of his was ever permitted to reign as king thereafter on the throne of David. Zerubbabel may have been descended from Jehoiachin through Shealtiel (see Matt. 1:12), and he may have exercised a leadership role after the restoration of captive Judah from Babylon; but he never achieved the status of king. (The later Jewish kings of the second and first centuries B.C., the Hasmoneans, were of the tribe of Levi and had no connection whatever with Jehoiakim.)

Was not Jeremiah mistaken in his prediction of a Babylonian invasion of Egypt (Jer. 43:7-13; 44:30)?

If Jeremiah had been guilty of false prophecy in regard to this important event, and if Nebuchadnezzar never really made an invasion of Egypt, then surely Jeremiah would have been exposed as a false prophet (cf. Deut. 18:22) and hence eliminated from all canonical status in the Hebrew Bible. The very fact that his writings were received and preserved as authoritative by the believing community is proof positive that the invasion actually did take place. The archaeological confirmation for this will be found in the article on Ezekiel 26, which also predicts the same coming event, Nebuchadnezzar's full-scale invasion of Egypt in the thirty-seventh year of his reign (ca. 569 B.C.).


Was not Ezekiel mistaken in some of his prophecies? How then can his writings be accepted as canonical?

Ezekiel 26:3-14 contains a striking series of prophecies that foretell the complete downfall of the proud merchant city of Tyre, to be brought about by the armies of Nebuchadnezzar. Yet from 29:18 it is clear that Nebuchadnezzar had not succeeded in capturing the island city offshore from the mainland port of Tyre. Undoubtedly the inhabitants had removed their most valuable possessions from the old city when they saw that its defenses could not hold out against the Chaldean siege engines. They had conveyed these possessions by ship to their island fortress, which was securely protected by Tyre's formidable navy against the landings attempted by Nebuchadnezzar's sea forces. Thus he had experienced years of frustration in the vain attempt to capture that prize. By way of compensation the Lord promised the king a successful venture against Egypt.

A careful examination of 26:3-14 indicates a two-stage level of punishment for Tyre. Verses 3-4 predicted that "many nations would come up against" it and would break down its towers and walls. This fits in well with the Chaldean campaign and its thorough destruction of the mainland city. Verses 5-6 go on to speak of the removal of all the bricks and rocks and everything movable from the site of that ruined city—a most unusual procedure in dealing with a city taken by storm. Generally such locations would be left a chaos of rubble rather than being swept clean.

Verses 7-11 specify that Nebuchadnezzar will capture, plunder, and thoroughly destroy the parent city on the shore. But v. 12 seems to usher in the later phase, using an unspecific "they" as the subject of "shall make a spoil of thy riches." Continuing through vv.13-14, the specifics point very strikingly toward the later attack on the island city of Tyre that was successfully carried through by Alexander the Great (ca. 332 B.C.). History tells us that after Alexander's naval forces proved incapable of storming the island (due to the determined resistance of the superior Tyrian fleet), he resorted to an ambitious engineering effort, consisting of a mile-long mole built out from shore to the east wall of the island. In order to get material for this causeway, the Greek invaders used every movable piece of rock or stone to cast into the sea, until after several months of strenuous endeavor the wall was reached, broken through, and the city sacked. Exasperated by the long delay in his invasion schedule, Alexander resolved to make a fearsome example of Tyre; so he had the island city totally destroyed so that it should never be rebuilt (v. 14).

In point of fact, the mainland city of Tyre later was rebuilt and assumed some of its former importance during the Hellenistic period. But as for the island city, it apparently sank below the surface of the Mediterranean, in the same subsidence that submerged the port of Caesarea that Herod had built up with such expense and care. All that remains of it is a series of black reefs offshore from Tyre, which surely could not have been there in the first and second millennia B.C., since they pose such a threat to navigation. The promontory that now juts out from the coastline probably was washed up along the barrier of Alexander's causeway, but the island itself broke off and sank away when the subsidence took place; and we have no evidence at all that it ever was built up again after Alexander's terrible act of vengenance. In the light of these data, then, the predictions of chapter 26, improbable though they must have seemed in Ezekiel's time, were duly fulfilled to the letter—first by Nebuchadnezzar in the sixth century, and then by Alexander in the fourth.

But was the promise of Ezekiel 29:17-20 fulfilled? In vv.8-16 a general prediction of crushing defeat of Egypt at the hand of foreign invaders is foretold, with devastation inflicted on the whole stretch of territory from Migdol in the Delta to Assuan in the far south. This unhappy condition was to endure for forty years, with considerable numbers of the Egyptians fleeing to other countries for refuge.

Then in vv. 17-20 a specific promise is made to Nebuchadnezzar personally. He will be compensated for his disappointment at Tyre by dazzling success in Egypt. He will penetrate to the refugee groups of Jews who fled from Palestine after the murder of Gedaliah in 582 B.C., abducting Jeremiah with them. Jeremiah himself predicted in Jeremiah 43:8-13 that Nebuchadnezzar would track them down there, both in Tahpanhes and wherever else they had settled in Egypt. There he would slaughter them or take them captive and would burn down the temples of Egypt.

The oracle of Ezekiel 29:l7ff. was given to the prophet "in the twenty-seventh year"—which was probably intended to be the regnal year of Nebuchadnezzar himself, rather than that of the captive Jewish king Je-hoiachin, even though in discussing specifically Jewish affairs Ezekiel normally does refer to Jehoiachin's reign. Since Nebuchadnezzar was crowned in 605 B.C., this would come out to about 578. Very likely this was the year of the first invasion of Egypt by Nebuchadnezzar, since this would allow for the forty years of affliction predicted back in v. 11. Thus the Chaldean domination and maltreatment of Egypt came to an end in 539, when Babylon fell to the forces of Cyrus the Great. While it is true that Egypt kept up national resistance through it all during the reigns of their native kings, such as Hophra (Uah-ib-Ra) 588-569 and Amasis (Ahmose II) 569-526, they were not able to repair the severe damage inflicted on their land by the Chaldean kings; nor were they able to repel them at their borders.

The Greek historians received no information from Egyptian or Persian sources concerning this period of successful Chaldean aggression. But Jo-sephus (Antiquities 10.9.5-7) refers to Nebuchadnezzar's conquest of Egypt around 582 B.C. While this date seems a bit early, there is little reason to condemn his whole account as fictitious. More recent discoveries of documentation in both Babylonian cuneiform and Egyptian hieroglyphics confirm Josephus in a remarkable way. A cuneiform tablet discovered by Pinches and translated by Pritchard (ANET, p. 308) dates one of Nebuchadnezzar's invasions in his thirty-seventh year (569 or 568 B.C.). There is also the biographical funerary stela of Nes-Hor in the Louvre, in which this commander in the reign of Uah-ib-Ra, though not furnishing us with an exact date, speaks of an invasion of the Nile Valley by an "army of northerners" and Asiatics who penetrated so far up the Nile Valley as to threaten the Ethiopian border.

These contemporary records from Babylon and Egypt serve to belie the skepticism of Ezekiel's detractors. But even they will have to concede that Ezekiel's long-range prediction concerning Egypt came true as stated in 29:15. After the forty years of Chaldean oppression were over and Babylon itself had succumbed to the Medo-Persian Empire in 539, there was but little respite for Egypt before Cambyses, the son of Cyrus, launched his invasion and proceeded to annex Egypt to his empire in 525. Despite a few brief intervals of independence, the Egyptians remained subjects of the Persian Empire right up until 332 B.C., when they were taken over by Alexander the Great and the Ptolemaic Dynasty that came into power after his death in 323. The Ptolemies ruled Egypt until Cleopatra's navy was defeated by Augustus at the Battle of Actium in 31 B.C. From that point on the Romans retained control right down to the Byzantine era, until finally the Arabs overwhelmed the Nile Valley in the A.D. 630s. In other words, there was no strong or enduring native Egyptian dynasty on the throne of Egypt from the time of Nebuchadnezzar until our present millennium; and in that sense it could be regarded as the "basest of kingdoms," according to Ezekiel 29:15.

As for the predictions concerning a future temple on the devastated Mount Moriah in Jerusalem, the main subject matter of Ezekiel 40-48, it is perfectly true that there has never been a real fulfillment of these chapters up until the present time. Nevertheless, as we shall show in a separate article, they will find their fulfillment on the threshold of Christ's millennial kingdom. If that is so, they can hardly be condemned as false prophecy.

Who was the "prince of Tyre" in Ezekiel 28? Did he have any relationship to Satan?

Very specific prophecies concerning the future of the Phoenician seaport of Tyre have been given in Ezekiel 26 and 27, predicting the destruction of the mainland city by Nebuchadnezzar (26:6-11) and of the offshore island city of Tyre by Alexander the Great in 332 B.C. (26:3-5, 12-14). The devastating effect on the commerce and economic prosperity of the various cities and nations that have traded with Tyre is set forth in 26:15-21 and all through chapter 27. The passages concerning the lamentation over the downfall of Tyre and the resultant ruination of world trade furnish a motif that is taken up on an even more impressive scale in Revelation 18, which pictures all the great merchant cities of earth mourning and sorrowing over the sudden destruction of latter-day Babylon.

These ancient trading centers, then, whether Tyre or Babylon, typify the collapse of the materialistic culture of the godless world in the End Time. All the luxuries and mercantile wealth for which that depraved civilization will have sold their souls will be stripped from them and leave them with nothing but disillusionment and despair. There is a sense, then, in which Tyre serves as an apocalyptic symbol of world overthrow in the final agony of the Tribulation.

From this perspective we move on to a consideration of chapter 28. The "prince" or "leader" (nagid) of Tyre is quoted in 28:2 as saying, "I am a god, I sit in the seat of gods, in the heart of the seas" (NASB). God replies to him, "Yet you are a man and not God, although you make your heart like the heart of God" (NASB). That is to say, in his folly and pride, this ruler of Tyre put himself and his material interests above the will and glory of God. In his imbecility he imagines himself to be more important than the Creator and Sovereign of the universe—as indeed every unsaved human being does who has not come to terms with the demands of God's lordship.

Tyre had become proverbial for its business acumen and brilliant success in pursuing its material goals. God says ironically, "Behold, you are wiser than Daniel [who had already risen to prominence by this juncture in Ezekiel's life]; there is no secret that is a match for you" (v.3, NASB). No other business capital could exceed Tyre in the acquisition of the luxuries and treasures that money could buy, and it was this financial supremacy that the witless world equated with real wisdom. This heady success had led the Tyrian people to the folly of self-deification. They imagined that their riches could buy them security and power without the need of divine protection or favor. "Because you have made your heart like the heart of God [that is, you imagine yourselves to be divine, and suppose that you are the captains of your own destiny], therefore, behold, I will bring strangers upon you, the most ruthless of the nations [i.e., the Chaldeans under Nebuchadnezzar]" (v.7, NASB).

Ezekiel 28:12-15 describes the self-flattering illusion into which the Tyrian state had fallen. To the king of Tyre, God says: "You had the seal of perfection, full of wisdom and perfect in beauty. You were in Eden, the garden of God; every precious stone was your covering: the ruby, the topaz, and the diamond; etc." (vv. 12-13, NASB). In other words, all the paradise that Tyre wanted was unlimited enjoyment of the costliest material treasures that money could buy. Having that, they supposed themselves to be enjoying heaven on earth. Verse 14 continues:

"You were the anointed cherub who covers [a comparison to the cherubim whose wings overshadowed the lid of the ark of the covenant in the Most Holy Place in the Jerusalem temple]; and I placed you there [i.e., God favored Tyre with this unparalleled prosperity on which its megalomania was based]" (NASB).

The Tyrians imagined themselves to be beyond reproach in their moral status because they considered wealth to be the reward and certification of ethical perfection—insofar as ethics really mattered in the world of the hard-headed businessman. "You were blameless in your ways from the day you were created [that is to say, that is how they viewed themselves], until unrighteousness was found in you" (v. 15, NASB)! As their proud city finally succumbed to the Chaldean battering ram and the pillaging warriors from Babylon, they discovered how deluded they had been about themselves. They had thought they were safely settled at the summit of the mountain of God (or of their own god, Baal); but they were cast down from that mountain by the righteous judgment of Yahweh and plunged into the depths of humiliating defeat.

There is no possibility of identifying the leader or king of Tyre with any specific monarch in the Tyrian dynasty. Like the "king of Babylon" in Isaiah 14, this "king" serves as a symbol or personification of the government and people of the entire city-state of Tyre. As for a relationship with Satan, there does not seem to be any decisive evidence in the text that the Prince of Hell is being indirectly addressed through the prince of Tyre. There is hardly a verse to be found that could be applied to the Devil alone rather than to the human rulers of the city itself. Certainly the theory advanced by some writers that this chapter contains a flashback to Satan's personal career prior to his rebellion and expulsion from heaven is at best an unsupported conjecture. All the hyperbolic language employed in the verses discussed above can best be understood as the flattering self-delusion of the Tyrian millionaires and their money-loving leaders, whose concept of heaven rose no higher than their treasures of rubies and gold, and whose yardstick for virtue consisted of material wealth. Yet it should be clearly understood that in a very real sense every culture that has sold out to materialistic values is under the dominadon of Satan and is influential in promoting his cause. It will also share in his ultimate judgment and eternal destruction (Rev. 20:10).


What is the significance of the temple in Ezekiel's prophecy (Ezek. 40-44)? Since Jesus died to atone for the sins of the world, it is puzzling to read of the renewal of animal sacrifices once again at some future age. 

This question rightly assumes that the temple prophecy in Ezekiel does refer to a future age, since it has never been fulfilled up until the present time. While it is true that there was a Jewish temple completed in 516 B.C., subsequent to Ezekiel's prediction (made about 580 B.C.), nevertheless there were many differences between the layout of the second temple and the specifications of this temple with its precincts. Herod's renovation, grandiose as it was, likewise failed to fulfill the requirements of Ezekiel's blueprint. No temple has stood on this site (apart from Islamic mosques) since the total destruction of the second temple in A.D. 70. Nor is it possible to construe these five chapters (containing even more detailed specifics than the description of the first temple in 1 Kings 6-7) as merely symbolic of the New Testament church, as Christ's spiritual temple.

How then are we to understand the sacrifices referred to in Ezekiel 43:18-27? This passage specifies burnt offerings ('oldt), sin offerings (hattd'ot), and peace offerings (selamim), all of which during the Old Testament era before the Cross typified Christ's atoning sacrifice. Hebrews 10:11-14 explains to us that these Old Testament sacrifices were not inherently effective in and of themselves to remove the guilt of the believer's sins. They all pointed forward to our Savior's atonement on Calvary, and every offering presented by the Israelite believer was in the nature of a bank check drawn on the unlimited credit of Christ's future payment on his behalf. When His blood was finally shed on our behalf, then the guilt of all the sins of all redeemed mankind was effectually atoned for once and for all; and there was no longer any need (or even possibility) of propitiatory blood-sacrifice on any altar to God.

We may therefore be confident that the sacrifices mentioned in Ezekiel 43 have nothing to do with atonement for sin. Their function will be parallel to that of the Lord's Supper, which Christ established as a communion ordinance during our present church age. The Eucharist of bread and wine is only intended for this present dispensation, however. Jesus said, "This do in remembrance of Me.... For as often as you eat this bread and drink the cup, you proclaim the Lord's death until He comes" (1 Cor. 11:24-26).

But during the age of the millennial kingdom, when our Lord Jesus Christ will come again to set up the rule of God over all the earth, what type of Communion ordinance will replace our present Lord's Supper with its bread and wine? Apparently it will be in the form of blood sacrifices once again, yet without any of the atoning function of the Old Testament period.


It is true that the same Hebrew terms are used in Ezekiel 43 as were employed in the law of Moses, but they will have a new meaning. They were used by the Old Testament prophet because they furnished the closest analogy to the millennial offerings that the Hebrew believer had any acquaintance with. But like so many other terms employed in connection with the end times, so these designations of sacrifice were sublimated and altered to fit the new conditions of the new age yet to come. Even so the millennial temple itself will have a triumphal or doxological meaning rather than a typical significance pointing forward to the atoning and sanctifying work of a future Redeemer. It will serve as a headquarters of worship and praise for all the citizens of the glorious, messianic kingdom, over which Jesus Christ will reign for a thousand years after He comes again to claim the earth for God.



Must Daniel be dated in the sixth century?

With the possible exception of Isaiah, no prophet of the Old Testament presents such a serious challenge to the rationalist as Daniel. His book contains not only short-range predictions, like the seven years of Nebuchadnezzar's insanity (chap. 4) and the imminent Fall of Babylon to the Medo-Persian attackers (chap. 5), but also such long-range predictions as the four-kingdom sequence (chap. 2), the elaboration of that sequence and— with its emphasis on the last days (chap. 7, as well as in chap. 8, with its special attention to the third kingdom)—the prediction of the date of Christ's first advent and the framework of the Seventy Weeks (chap. 9), and then the detailed account of the confrontation between the Seleucid and Ptolemaic empires and the career of the two Littlee Horns (chap. 11).

In order to avoid the impact of the decisive evidence of supernatural inspiration with which Daniel so notably abounds, it was necessary for rationalistic scholarship to find some later period in Jewish history when all the "predictions" had already been fulfilled, such as the reign of Antiochus Epiphanes (175-164 B.C.), when such a pious fraud could most easily be prepared. In order to do this, however, it was necessary for J. D. Michaelis and J. G. Eichhorn (who in the eighteenth century revived the old Maccabean date hypothesis of the third-century neo-platonic philosopher Porphyry) to make a few adjustments in the evidence of the text. For the actual text of Daniel indicates that the empire sequence was as follows: first kingdom: Chaldean; second kingdom: Medo-Persian; third kingdom: Greek; fourth kingdom: Roman. But since the Roman Empire did not take over the Holy Land until 63 B.C., it was necessary to eliminate that identification altogether in order to preserve the rational de-fensibility of a Maccabean date hypothesis. The Maccabean period would have been around 167 to 165 B.C., or over a hundred years before Pompey seized Palestine for the Romans; so that would have allowed a successful prediction to remain in the Book of Daniel, a hundred years in advance of the fulfillment. Consequently the effort was made to prove that the fourth kingdom was Greek rather than Roman and that the true sequence was Chaldean, Median, Persian, and Greek. Otherwise the late date theory could not survive, for it was not late enough to account for Pompey.

In the article on "Darius the Mede," we will furnish the evidence for the rejection of that revised identification and demonstrate that the fourth kingdom has to be Rome after all. But in this preliminary discussion we shall be centering our attention on the linguistic evidence in Daniel that tends to eliminate all possibility of dating the composition of Daniel any later than the Persian period. With the wealth of new data from the manuscripts of the Dead Sea caves (the Qumran literature), it is possible to settle this question once and for all. Now that we have at least one fairly extensive midrash originally composed in third-century B.C. Aramaic and several sectarian documents in second-century Hebrew, it has become possible to perform a careful linguistic comparison of the Aramaic and Hebrew chapters of Daniel and these unquestionably third-or second-century B.C. documents, which were close to the era of the Maccabean struggle.

If Daniel had in fact been composed in the 160s, these Qumran manuscripts should have exhibited just about the same general characteristics as Daniel in the matter of vocabulary, morphology, and syntax. Yet the actual test results show that Daniel 2-7 is linguistically older than the Genesis Apocryphon by several centuries. Hence these chapters could not have been composed as late as the second century or the third century, but rather—based on purely philological grounds—they have to be dated in the fifth or late sixth century; and they must have been composed in the eastern sector of the Aramaic-speaking world (such as Babylon), rather than in Palestine (as the late date theory requires). The evidence for this is quite technical, and hence it would hardly be suitable for this type of encyclopedia (which does not presuppose a thorough knowledge of Hebrew, Aramaic, and Greek on the part of most of our reading public). But those who have had training in Hebrew and Aramaic are encouraged to consult the summaries of this evidence as contained in this author's A Survey of Old Testament Introduction (pp. 391-93). But my more thorough and definitive work, "The Aramaic of the Genesis Apocryphon Compared with the Aramaic of Daniel," appears as chapter 11 in Payne, New Perspectives. See also my article "The Hebrew of Daniel Compared with the Qumran Sectarian Documents," in Skilton, The Law and the Prophets (chap. 41).

The following conclusion concerning the Apocryphon comes from my A Survey of Old Testament Introduction (p.169):

The fact that Targumic and Talmudic words abound in this document indicates a considerable interval in time between its composition and that of Ezra and Daniel. Its use of normal Semitic word order in the clause as over against Daniel's policy of placing the verb late in the clause points to a definite difference either in geographic origin (which would eliminate the possibility of Daniel's Maccabean composition in Palestine) or in time of composition. Either inference is fatal to the pseudepigraph theory. It is fair to say, therefore, that the overall testimony of this scroll [the Genesis Apocryphon] leads to an abandonment of a long-cherished position of higher criticism, and makes the genuineness of Danielic authorship an even more attractive option than it was before.

In New Perspectives (pp. 480-81), we find the following concluding remarks:

In the light of all the data adduced under the four categories just reviewed, it seems abundantly clear that a second-century date for the Hebrew chapters of Daniel is no longer tenable on linguistic grounds. In view of the markedly later development in the areas of syntax, word-order, morphology, vocabulary, spelling and word-usage, there is absolutely no possibility of regarding Daniel as contemporary [with the sectarian documents]. On the contrary the indications are that centuries must have intervened between them.... But any-fair-minded investigator when faced with such an overwhelming body of objective data pointing to the temporal interval of centuries between the two bodies of literature must conclude that a second-century date for the book of Daniel is completely out of the question. ... The complete absence of Greek loan-words, apart from musical instruments of international currency [mentioned in Dan. 3:5], points unmistakably to a time of composition prior to the Alexandrian conquest. It is utterly inconceivable that after 160 years of Greek overlordship (as the Maccabean theory insists) there would be a complete absence of Greek terms pertaining to government and administration, whether in the Aramaic chapters or in the Hebrew, in a literary product of the 160's B.C. But now that the considerable body of new documentation exhumed from the First Qumran Cave has been published and subjected to thorough analysis, it becomes patently evident that the Maccabean-date theory, despite all of its persuasive appeal to the rationalist, is altogether wrong. Only a dogma-ridden obscurantist can adhere to it any longer, and he must henceforth surrender all claim to intellectual respectability.

Are we then driven back to the late sixth century B.C. for the composition of the Book of Daniel? Since Daniel himself must have been born between 620 and 615 B.C, we can hardly assume that he lived beyond 530, to the age of 85 or 90. This means that the final form of his memoirs was completed by 530 and that we should look for a linguistic locus of about that period if his work is genuine. Unquestionably he lived to see the Fall of Babylon to the Medo-Persian armies of Cyrus the Great in 539. He served under Cyrus's viceroy, Darius the Mede, for a year or so, and thus became deeply involved with the new Persian terminology that had begun to infiltrate the Aramaic of Babylon in matters of administration and government. The fifteen loan-words from Persian that appear in Daniel's Aramaic are adequately accounted for by the close contact Daniel enjoyed with Persian officialdom during the 530s. Once we establish that the Book of Daniel must have been composed before the Greek conquest—and therefore back in the Persian period— there is no good reason for refusing the adequacy of a 530 date. Certainly the phenomenon of successful prediction of events extending even into the first century A.D. becomes a characteristic that can only point to divine inspiration behind it, and all the presup-positional incentive for late dating the book has been removed. We may as well accept it for what it purports to be, the personal composition of Daniel himself (as is affirmed by 7:1-2,15,28; 8:1, 15,27; 9:2,21-22; 10:1-2; 12:5).

For the consistent Evangelical, however, the matter is definitely settled by the reference to Daniel that occurs in Christ's Olivet Discourse (Matt. 24:15). There Jesus mentions "the abomination of desolation which was spoken of through [dia with genitive] Daniel the prophet." The phrase "the abomination of desolation" (or "which makes desolate") occurs in Daniel 9:27; 11:31; 12:11. The important thing to observe is that Christ was not simply referring to some book in the Old Testament named "Daniel" but rather to the agency of Daniel personally, since dia with the genitive always implies personal human agency. If these words of Christ are reliably reported—as of course they are—we can only conclude that Christ personally believed that the historic personage Daniel was the author of the book that contained this eschatological phrase. Moreover Christ made it plain that the fulfillment of the prediction concerning this "abomination of desolation" yet lay in the future. It was not fulfilled by what happened back in 168 B.C., even though a type of this abomination may have been erected by Antiochus in the Jerusalem temple.


Is Daniel 1:1 wrong about the date of Nebuchadnezzar's invasion?

Daniel 1:1 says that Nebuchadnezzar first invaded Palestine in the "third" year of Jehoiakim of Judah. But Jeremiah 46:2 says that the first year of Nebuchadnezzar was the "fourth" year of Jehoiakim. Which is right?

Actually, both are right. Nebuchadnezzar was crowned king of Babylon in 605 B.C., which according to the Babylonian system would have been the "accession year" of Nebuchadnezzar. His first regnal year did not begin, therefore, until New Year's Day in 604. But according to the Judean system, the accession year counted as the first year of a king's reign. Since Jehoiakim was appointed king of Judah in 608 by Pharaoh Necho, 605 would be reckoned his fourth year (which Jeremiah, as a resident of Jerusalem, would naturally have followed). But according to the Babylonian reckoning (which Daniel, as a resident of Babylon naturally followed), 605 would have been Jehoiakim's "third" year (reckoning his first regnal year from New Year's Day 607). Hence both statements are correct, and both come out to the same year: 605—the year of Nebuchadnezzar's great victory at the Batde of Carchemish.

Why does Daniel refer to soothsayer-priests as Chaldeans'?

Daniel 2:2 first introduces the "Chaldeans" (Heb. Kasdim) as a class of astrologer-priests, along with the "magicians, the conjurers, and "the sorcerers." Obviously there is nothing ethnic about this use of the term. From the ethnical standpoint, Nebuchadnezzar himself and most of his political and military leaders were "Chaldeans." Some have argued that this nonethnic use of the term in Daniel 2:2 and elsewhere reflects a confusion in the understanding of the late author of the Book of Daniel, who probably wrote around 165 B.C. This theory is completely shattered, however, by the fact that the real author of "Daniel" (namely, Daniel himself, writing around 530 B.C.) also uses Kasdim in an ethnic way. In 5:30 he refers to Belshazzar as "the king of the Chaldeans" (Aramaic malkd' Kasdd'e). (Probably the certain "Chaldean men" [gubrin Kas-da'in] in 3:8, who were the accusers of Daniel's three friends, were high government officials rather than soothsayer-priests [so Brown-Driver-Briggs, Lexicon, p. 1098].) Such a varying use of the term cannot be explained by a theory of late authorship. The fact of the matter is that the author of Daniel used this name in two different senses: (1) as astrological, (2) as ethnical. How could this have come about? Is there any explanation for these homonyms? Yes, there is, but it is to be found in the handing down of an ancient term through three languages.

As Robert Dick Wilson of Princeton pointed out (Studies in the Book of Daniel, Series 1 [New York: G.P. Putnam's Sons, 1917]), the Sumerian combination Gal-du would have meant "Master Builder," a title given to those astrologer-priests who drew star charts by dividing the visible stars up into little rooms on a chart resembling the floor-plan of a house. The term Gal-du so appears in a tablet dated in the fourteenth year of Shamash-shumukin of Babylon (668-648 B.C).

Confusion of Kal-du (the Akkadian spelling of Sumerian Gal-du) with the name of the Chaldean nation came about as follows: That name, originally Kasdu or Kas’du later came to be pronounced Kaldu in the Babylonian dialect of Akkadian. This resulted from a modification of a sibilant to an I before a dental; thus, the preposition istu ("out of") was pronounced ultu in later Babylonian; astur ("I wrote") was changed to altur. The final stage came in the rise of the Neo-Babylonian Empire under Nabopolassar and his son Nebuchadnezzar; for in this time of national resurgence (having thrown off the Assyrian yoke at last), they tried to restore their literary language to its earlier classical form. This meant that all the sibilants that had become I before dental consonants had to be changed back to their original sibilants. It was only natural, therefore, for the Kaldu, which originally came from Kal-du (Gal-du), to be unhistorically changed to Kasdu (the plural of which was Kas'di, Hebrew Kasdim, Aramaic Kasdin, or Kasda’e in the emphatic state). This term thus fell together with the ethnic Kaldu (plural Kaldi), which had come originally from Kasdu. (Note that the Greeks picked up the name before the Neo-Babylonian reform, for they called the nation Chaldaioi, whence comes our English translation "Chaldeans."

Is not Daniel 5 in error regarding the identity of the last king of Babylon? Wasn't it Nabonidus rather than Belshazzar?

On the contrary, the biblical notice has been strikingly confirmed by archaeological evidence. During the previous centuries many scholars mistakenly assumed that "Belshazzar" was a mere legendary figure because none of the Greek historians, from Herodotus on, knew anything about Belshazzar or referred to his name. While it is true that Nabonidus (the cuneiform spelling is Nabu-na'id) was indeed the head king of Babylon at the demise of the Chaldean Empire, it has now been well established that he was quartered at Tema in North Arabia at the time of Cyrus's invasion of Babylonia. It was therefore his son, Belshazzar, who was in charge of Babylon itself (which at that time was considered impregnable to any besieging army), and who had been crowned as viceroy several years earlier during his father's reign.

Excavations at Ur turned up an inscription of Nabunaid containing a prayer, first for himself, then for his firstborn son, Bel-shar-usur. Such prayers were offered only for the reigning monarch (in a manner quite similar to the celebration of Holy Communion in the Anglican Church). Still other cuneiform documents record how Belshazzar presented sheep and oxen at the temples of Sippar as "an offering of the king." Since the name of Belshazzar had been forgotten by the time of Herodotus (ca. 450 B.C.), it is clear that the author of Daniel 5 must have written this work a good deal earlier than 450 B.C. That author was also well aware that Belshazzar was only number two king of Babylon in 539 B.C., for all he could offer Daniel as a reward for deciphering the inscription on the wall of the banquet hall was "the third place in the kingdom." (For further details on this matter, the reader is encouraged to consult Raymond P. Dougherty, Nabonidus and Belshazzar [New Haven: Yale, 1929].)

Is there any confirmation for the existence of "Darius the Mede"?

"Darius the Mede" is first mentioned in Daniel 5:31: "So Darius the Mede received the kingdom [over the erstwhile Chaldean Empire] at about the age of sixty-two" (NASB). Some scholars, advocating a late date theory for the composition of Daniel, argue (1) that there never was a Median Darius, since he is never mentioned in any other ancient document preserved to us; (2) that the name Darius was picked up by the Maccabean author, who was confused about the real sequence in Persian history and mixed up a legendary Median king with Darius I (522-484), who was a Persian rather than a Mede; (3) that the author mistakenly supposed that it was the Medes who conquered Babylon (rather than Cyrus the Persian), and that under this legendary "Darius" they were supposed to have maintained a world empire for some years before they fell to the Persians.

In  this  way  the  Maccabean  date advocates are able to account for the four "kingdoms" in Nebuchadnezzar's dream (Dan. 2) as (1) Chaldean, (2) Median, (3) Persian, (4) Greek—which would have the advantage of extending the prophetic horizon of "Daniel" no farther than 165 B.C. (The problem with the traditional identification of the fourth kingdom with Rome is that it would presuppose genuine predictive prophecy—which cannot be permitted by rationalist higher criticism.) The tenability of the Maccabean date hypothesis rests on this explanation for "Darius the Mede." Therefore Darius is a pretty important fellow and deserves our special attention.

No identification can be made out between Darius the son of Hystaspes and Darius the Mede for the following reasons:

Darius I was a Persian by birth, a cousin of King Cyrus; he was not a Median.

Darius was a young man when he assassinated the imposter Gaumata (who claimed to be Smerdis, the son of Cyrus) in 522. Darius could not have been 62; he was more likely in his twenties.

Darius did not precede Cyrus as king of Babylon; rather, he began his reign seven years after the death of Cyrus the Great; yet the liberal theory alleges that the author supposed that he came before Cyrus.

Such confusion as to the true nationality and time sequence of Darius the Great would have been unthinkable in the second-century B.C. Hellenistic world; for even in the Near East every schoolboy was required to read Xenophon, if not Herodotus, and other Greek historians from the fifth and fourth centuries B.C. Even in Hellenistic Palestine, these authors were widely read and admired. It is from Xenophon and Herodotus that we gain our information concerning Cyrus and Darius. Any Greek-writing author, or author within the Hellenistic orbit, who attempted to put Darius before Cyrus would have been laughed off the stage by the general public; and no credence would have been given to anything he wrote.

We must therefore conclude that Darius the Mede and Darius the Persian have nothing to do with each other, and that the confusion is in the minds of the late date theorists rather than in the mind of the author of Daniel. And yet it is true that no reference to "Darius the Mede" has been discovered as yet in the findings of archaeology. (Until the late nineteenth century, the same would have been true of Belshazzar, viceroy under his father Nabonidus. Maccabean date critics used to allege that he was another fictional character in Daniel, before the discovery of Babylonian tablets from that period, which confirm that Belshazzar was serving as junior king in the final years of Nabonidus's reign.) Yet there is a very obvious and attractive identification to be found as we shall see.

There are several indications in the text of Daniel that Darius was not king in his own right but had been temporarily appointed to the throne by some higher authority. In 9:1 it is stated that Darius "was made king." The passive stem (hophal) is used in the verb homlak, rather than the usual malak ("became king"), which would have been used had he obtained the throne by conquest or by inheritance. In 5:31 we are told that Darius "received" (qabbel) the kingship, as if it had been entrusted to him by a higher authority. It is also appropriate to point out that subordinate or vassal kings were similarly appointed by Cyrus according to the Behistun Rock inscription set up by Darius I in the late sixth century. (Thus Darius's own forebear, Hystaspes, is said to have been "made king" during the time of Cyrus the Great.) As the incumbent of the time-honored throne of Babylon, it was only a matter of proper protocol for Cyrus's appointee to assume in his official decrees the same titles as had always attached to that title. Thus the decree of 6:25 is addressed to the inhabitants of "all the earth" ('ar’a’ could also be translated "land," rather than being as comprehensive as "the earth"). Traditional titulary, going back to the time of Hammurabi (eighteenth century B.C.), was sar kis-sati ("king of the universe"). Therefore this phrase need not be construed as implying that Darius was claiming to be king over all the inhabited world, including Persia itself, as some critics have assumed.

Who, then, was Darius the Mede? In his careful study of the relevant archaeological documents, J. C. Whitcomb (Darius the Mede [Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 1959]) has assembled all the texts referring to (1) Ugbaru, the general who engineered the capture of Babylon in 539 B.C.; (2) Gubaru, who is often referred to in tablets dating from 535 to 525 as the governor of Babylon; and (3) Gaubaruva, a leader mentioned in the inscriptions of Darius the Great. Ugbaru was not the same person as Gubaru (Xenophon spells his name as Gobryas but confuses him with Ugbaru) but an elderly general who died within a few weeks after the Fall of Babylon. Gaubaruva is plainly a later personage who came into prominence after Ushtani was appointed governor of Babylon in the late 520s. Concerning Gubaru, we have little evidence of his ethnic background, but he could very well have been a Mede. Certainly it was consistent with Cyrus's policy to put talented and loyal Medes like General Harpagus into key positions in his government. As for the name "Darius" (Persian Darayawush), it seems to be related to dara, which appears in Avestan as a term for "king." Like   augustus   among   the   Romans, darayawush ("the royal one") may have been a special honorific title, which could also be used as a proper name (just as "King" may be a name in English).

It would appear, then, that right after the Fall of Babylon to the Medo-Persian troops, Cyrus's presence was urgently needed on another front of his expanding empire. He therefore found it expedient to put Gubaru-Darius in charge, with the title King of Babylon, to rule for a year or so until Cyrus could return in person and celebrate a formal coronation as king in the temple of Marduk. After his year of rule as viceroy, then, Darius was retained as the governor of Babylon, but with the crown transferred to his overlord, Cyrus (who subsequently had his older son, Cambyses, crowned king of Babylon). It is clear from Daniel's failure to mention any date later than Darius's "first year" (9:1) that his reign must have been of very brief duration. It should be observed that an empire that lasted for only a single year introduces an element of utter implausibility into the Maccabean date hypothesis; for a one-year empire could hardly have been set up as number two in a series that included the Chaldean Empire, which lasted for 73 years, the Persian Empire, which lasted for 208 years, and the Greek Empire, which would have lasted for 167 years by 165 B.C.

We close this discussion with the episode that first ushers Darius onto the stage in Daniel's narrative. Daniel 5 relates the dramatic episode of the divine handwriting on the wall of Belshazzar's banquet hall. The third term in that fateful inscription is PERES, which Daniel himself (in v.28) interprets as "PERES—your kingdom has been divided [perisat, from the same p-r-s root as PERES] and given over to the Medes and Persians [Paras]" (NASB). This double word-play on the root p-r-s makes it absolutely certain that the author of this book believed that kingdom number one (the Chaldean Empire) passed directly and immediately into the control of the Persians, allied with the Medes, as kingdom number two. This leaves no room for the critics' theory of an earlier and separate Median Empire as being intended by the author of Daniel. That author must therefore have believed that kingdom number two was Persian (i.e., Medo-Persian), that kingdom number three (of Dan. 2) was the Macedonian-Greek-Syrian Empire, and that kingdom number four would overthrow and replace the Greek Empire. The only power that ever did that was the Roman Empire. Therefore, successful predictive prophecy cannot be eliminated from Daniel even by a Maccabean date hypothesis!

How can we make any sense out of Daniel's prophecy of Seventy Weeks?

The prophecy of the Seventy Weeks in Daniel 9:24-27 is one of the most remarkable long-range predictions in the entire Bible. It is by all odds one of the most widely discussed by students and scholars of every persuasion within the spectrum of the Christian church. And yet when it is carefully examined in the light of all the relevant data of history and the information available from other parts of Scripture, it is quite clearly an accurate prediction of the time of Christ's coming advent and a preview of the thrilling final act of the drama of human history before that advent.


Daniel 9:24 reads: "Seventy weeks have been determined for your people and your holy city [i.e., for the nation Israel and for Jerusalem]." The word for "week" is sabuac, which is derived from seba', the word for "seven." Its normal plural is feminine in form: se bu’ot. Only in this chapter of Daniel does it appear in the masculine plural sabu'im. (The only other occurrence is in the combination se bu'e se bu'ot ["heptads of weeks"] in Ezek. 21:28 [21:23 English text]). Therefore, it is strongly suggestive of the idea "heptad" (a series or combination of seven), rather than a "week" in the sense of a series of seven days. There is no doubt that in this case we are presented with seventy sevens of years rather than of days. This leads to a total of 490 years.

At the completion of these 490 years, according to v.24b, there will be six results: (1) "to finish or bring transgression [or 'the sin of rebellion'] to an end"; (2) "to finish [or 'seal up'] sins"; (3) "to make atonement for iniquity"; (4) "to bring in everlasting righteousness"; (5) "to seal up vision and prophecy"; and (6) "to anoint the holy of holies." By the end of the full 490 years, then, the present sin-cursed world order will come to an end (1 and 2), the price of redemption for sinners will have been paid (3); the kingdom of God will be established on earth, and all the earth will be permanently filled with righteousness, as the waters cover the sea (4); and the Most Holy One (Christ?), or the Most Holy Sanctuary (which seems more probable, since Christ was already anointed by the Holy Spirit at His first advent), will be solemnly anointed and inaugurated for worship in Jerusalem, the religious and political capital of the world during the Millennium (5 and 6).



Daniel 9:25 reads: "And you are to know and understand, from the going forth of the command [or 'decree'; lit., 'word'—dabar] to restore and [re] build Jerusalem until Messiah the Prince [nagid] will be [or 'there are; the Hebrew omits the verb 'to be' in this case] seven heptads and sixty-two hep-tads." This gives us two installments, 49 years and 434 years, for a total of 483 years. Significantly, the seventieth heptad is held in abeyance until v.27. Therefore we are left with a total of 483 between the issuance of the decree to rebuild Jerusalem and the coming of the Messiah.


As we examine each of the three decrees issued in regard to Jerusalem by kings subsequent to the time Daniel had this vision (538 B.C., judging from Dan. 9:1), we find that the first was that of Cyrus in 2 Chronicles 36:23: "The Lord, the God of heaven…. has appointed me to build Him a house in Jerusalem, which is in Judah" (NASB). This decree, issued in 538 or 537, pertained only to the rebuilding of the temple, not of the city of Jerusalem. The third decree is to be inferred from the granting of Nehemiah's request by Artaxerxes I in 446 B.C., as recorded in Nehemiah 2:5-8. His request was "Send me to Judah, to the city of my fathers' tombs, that I may rebuild it." Then we read, "So it pleased the king to send me, and I gave him a definite time [for my return to his palace]" (NASB). The king also granted him a requisition of timber for the gates and walls of the city.

It should be noted that when Nehemiah first heard from his brother Hanani that the walls of Jerusalem had not already been rebuilt, he was bitterly disappointed and depressed—as if he had previously supposed that they had been rebuilt (Neh. 1:1-4). This strongly suggests that there had already been a previous decree authorizing the rebuilding of those city walls. Such an earlier decree is found in connection with Ezra's group that returned to Jerusalem in 457, the seventh year of Artaxerxes I. Ezra 7:6 tells us: "This Ezra went up from Babylon,... and the king granted him all he requested because the hand of the lord his God was upon him" (NASB; notice the resemblance to Neh. 2:8, the last sentence). According to the following verse, Ezra was accompanied by a good-sized group of followers, including temple singers, gatekeepers, temple servants, and a company of laymen ("some of the sons of Israel"). 

After arriving at Jerusalem, he busied himself first with the moral and spiritual rebuilding of his people (Ezra 7:10). But he had permission from the king to employ any unused balance of the offering funds for whatever purpose he saw fit (v. 18); and he was given authority to appoint magistrates and judges and to enforce the established laws of Israel with confiscation, banishment, or death (v.26). Thus he would appear to have had the authority to set about rebuilding the city walls, for the protection of the temple mount and the religious rights of the Jewish community.

In 9:9 Ezra makes reference to this authority in his public, penitential prayer: "For we are slaves; yet in our bondage, our God has not forsaken us, but has extended lovingkindness to us in the sight of the kings of Persia, to give us reviving to raise up the house of our God, to restore its ruins, and to give us a wall in Judah and Jerusalem" (NASB; italics mine).

While this "wall" may have been partly a metaphor for "protection," it seems to have included the possibility of restoring the mural defenses of Jerusalem itself. Unfortunately, we are given no details as to the years that intervened before 446; but it may be that an abortive attempt was made under Ezra's leadership to replace the outer wall of the city, only to meet with frustration—perhaps from a lack of self-sacrificing zeal on the part of the Jewish returnees themselves or because of violent opposition from Judah's heathen neighbors. This would account for Nehemiah's keen disappointment (as mentioned above) when he heard that "the wall of Jerusalem is broken down and its gates are burned with fire" (Neh. 1:3, NASB).

If, then, the decree of 457 granted to Ezra himself is taken as the terminus a quo for the commencement of the 69 heptads, or 483 years, we come out to the precise year of the appearance of Jesus of Nazareth as Messiah (or Christ): 483 minus 457 comes out to A.D. 26. But since a year is gained in passing from 1 B.C. to A.D.1 (there being no such year as zero), it actually comes out to A.D. 27. It is generally agreed that Christ was crucified in A.D. 30, after a ministry of a little more than three years. This means His baptism and initial ministry must have taken place in A.D. 27—a most remarkable exactitude in the fulfillment of such an ancient prophecy. Only God could have predicted the coming of His Son with such amazing precision; it defies all rationalistic explanation.


Daniel 9:25 goes on to say, "It will again be built with street and moat, even when times are difficult." It is fair to deduce from this that the actual completion of the reconstruction of the city, both walls and interior appointments of the city, would take up about seven heptads, or forty-nine years. Soon after 400 B.C., then, the walls, the defensive moat, and all the streets and buildings behind those walls had been completely restored.

Daniel 9:26 goes on to foretell the tragic death of the Messiah: "And subsequent to the sixty-two heptads [ensuing upon the earlier installment of forty-nine], the Messiah will be cut off and shall have no one [or 'nothing']." This suggests that the Messiah would be violently put to death, without any faithful followers to protect Him. He would die alone! This refers to the great event that took place on Golgotha in A.D. 30.

There are some able scholars who prefer the date 33 but the calendrical data seem to favor the earlier date. 

[30  A.D.  IS  CORRECT  -  Keith Hunt]

At all events, the earlier statement "until Messiah the Prince" in v.25 refers to His first appearance to Israel as the baptized and anointed Redeemer of Israel; it does not refer to the year of His death, since His "cutting off" is not mentioned until v.26.

Daniel 9:26b then foretells what will happen by way of retribution to the "holy city" that has rejected Jesus and voted to have Him "cut off": "And the people of the prince who shall come [i.e., Titus, the victorious commander of the Roman troops in A.D. 70] will destroy the holy city, and its end will come with a flood [of disaster], and war is determined down to the [very] end, with devastation." These vivid terms point to the total destruction that overtook Jerusalem in that fateful year.


Daniel 9:27 reads: "And he will confirm a covenant with the many for one heptad [i.e., seven years], but in the middle of the heptad he will terminate sacrifice and offering." The subject of "confirm" is indefinite in the Hebrew, for no subject is expressed; but it is easily inferred from the last personal subject mentioned in the previous verse: "the prince who shall come," that ruler who will establish a covenant or concordat with the Jewish community ("the many"—a term originating in Isa. 53:11-12) is an antitype of the Roman general who destroyed Jerusalem after the termination of the sixty-ninth heptad (i.e., Titus in A.D. 70). That antitype has already appeared back in Daniel 7:25 as the Little Horn of the last days who will persecute "the saints of the Most High" for "a time [Aramaic 'iddan], times, and half a time," i.e., for three and a half years. This same period recurs in Daniel 12:7, where the mighty angel swears to Daniel that "it will be for a time [Heb. moed), times, and a half; and as soon as they finish shattering the power [lit., 'hand'] of the holy people, all these things will come to an end"—i.e., that final heptad of years will be over. The data of v.26 indicate that a long but indeterminable interval is intended between A.D. 27 (the end of the sixty-ninth heptad)—after Messiah appears; then the Crucifixion occurs; Jerusalem is destroyed by the Romans; and finally there is a period of overwhelming disaster, war, and desolation—and the inception of the final seven years of the last days (v.27), in the midst of which the antitypical prince or supreme dictator covenants with the Jewish people for seven years of religious tolerance, only to revoke his promise after three and a half years.

[YEP,  JUST  AS  I  THOUGHT,  THE  MODERN (WELL  FROM   THE  SCOFIELD  BIBLE  TIME)  -  THE  FUNDAMENTAL  PROTESTANT  PROPHETS  WITH  THEIR  GAP  THEORY,  ANTI-CHRIST  COVENANT  WITH  THE  JEWS  FOR  7  YEARS;  BREAKING  THE  COVENANT  AFTER  3  AND  1/2  YEARS.  AND  EITHER  AT  THE  BEGINNING  OF  THE  7  YEARTS  OR  HALF  WAY  THROUGH,  THEY  HAVE  THE  “SECRET  RAPTURE” - CHURCH  OFF  TO  HEAVEN  AND  COMING  WITH  CHRIST  AGAIN (SO  TWO  RETURNS  OF  THE  SECOND  COMING)  7  OR  3  AND  1/2  YEARS  LATER  IN  VISIBLE  GLORY.  The Scofield Reference Bible is a widely circulated study Bible edited and annotated by the American Bible student Cyrus I. Scofield…..the entire text of the traditional, Protestant King James Version, it first appeared in 1909 and was revised by the author in 1917.)  - Keith Hunt]

By the use of proper grammatical exegesis, then, it is possible to make perfect sense of the Seventy Weeks prophecy of Daniel 9 and see a remarkable correspondence with subsequent history up through the sixty-ninth heptad and the events that have ensued between then and now. But the reference to "sacrifice and offering" in 9:26 does seem to presuppose the prior erection of a valid temple and altar on the Temple Mount as a feature at the inception of the final seven years before the Battle of Armageddon and the establishment of the kingdom of God on earth in the millennial rule of Christ on the throne of David.



Do not the detailed predictions of Daniel 11 regarding events taking place during the third century and early second century B.C. strongly indicate a date of composition during the 160s B.C.?

Daniel 11 presents a panorama of future history subsequent to the reign of Cyrus the Great all the way to the appearance of the Antichrist or Beast of the last days, prior to the return of Christ and the Battle of Armageddon. Verse 2 refers to three more Persian kings (i.e., Cambyses, Darius, and Xerxes) prior to the Persian invasion of Greece in 480 B.C. Verse 3 predicts the conquests of Alexander the Great in the 330s, and v.4, the quadripartite division of his empire after his death. Verses 5-9 cover the period of conflict between the Ptolemaic and the Seleucid empires from the 320s to the death of Seleucus III in 223. Verses 10-19 foretell the career of Antiochus III (the Great), and v.20 that of his successor, Seleucus IV. Verses 21-35 give a vivid  and detailed description of Antiochus IV (Epiphanes), who was destined to make a supreme effort to stamp out the faith of Israel and to convert the Jews to Hellenic paganism.

Up until this point, the rationalist scholar, who seeks to avoid the supernatural factors involved in foretelling the events of 365 years to the future, will necessarily be driven to the explanation that the author of Daniel actually lived and wrote in the 160s B.C., rather than in 530 B.C. 

But unfortunately for this explanation, vv.36-45 do not conform to what is known of the life and career of Antiochus Epiphanes. A fine discussion of these verses and their bearing on the career of the future Antichrist may be found in Leon Wood's A Commentary on Daniel (Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 1973), pp. 304-14.

The significant phrase "At the end time" in Daniel 11:40 points unmistakably to the last days rather than to the events of the 160s B.C. 

Many of the distinguishing traits and policies attributed to this "king of the North" do not at all conform to what we know of Epiphanes; and the manner and location of his death stand in striking contrast to the manner of the death of Antiochus, which took place in Tabae, Persia, after an unsuccessful attempt to raid a wealthy temple in Elymais. Tabae was nearly two thousand miles away from Palestine. But Daniel 11:45 reads: "And he [the king of the North] will pitch the tents of his royal pavilion between the seas and the beautiful Holy Mountain; yet he will come to his end, and no one will help him" (NASB). This means that this eschatological tyrant will meet his end somewhere between the Mediterranean and the Dead Sea, in the proximity of Mount Zion. No theory of Maccabean composition can account for so serious a blunder as this—if indeed v.45 was intended to prophesy the end of Antiochus Epiphanes.

Lastly, it should be pointed out that from Daniel 2 through Daniel 7 the perspective of the author of Daniel includes the Roman Empire as the fourth kingdom in the four-kingdom scheme of chapter 2. All attempts to insert a separate, earlier Median Empire as preceding the Persian Empire are rendered nugatory by the handwriting on the wall of Belshazzar's palace. That is to say, the third term of that inscription is PERES, which is interpreted by Daniel himself to mean "Your kingdom has been divided [perisat—a verb derived from the root P-R-S] and has been given over to the Medes and Persians [Paras]." Nothing could be plainer from this verse (5:28) than that the author of Daniel believed that imperial power passed directly from the Babylonian to the Medo-Persian as a federated empire—not to the Median Empire first, then a few years later to the Persian Empire (as the Maccabean date hypothesis demands). On the contrary, the author himself must have believed that the second kingdom was the Medo-Persian one. This means that the Greek Empire, founded by Alexander the Great, must have been kingdom number three and that the Roman Empire, which did not take over the Near East in a decisive and final way until 63 B.C., was kingdom number four. This factor renders the Maccabean date hypothesis logically indefensible.

There is only one alternative left. The author of Daniel knew of the whole future course of history from Cyrus the Great to the Roman Empire through direct revelation from God. No other theory fits the objective data of the text or the known facts of history.


How could a holy God command Hosea to marry a harlot?

From the standpoint of Hosea himself, looking back on his domestic tragedy, it was quite clear that when God had encouraged him to marry Gomer, the daughter of Diblaim, who He foreknew would be unfaithful to Hosea after he had married her, this amounted to a divine directive to marry a harlot. This does not necessarily mean that she had already shown a tendency to sexual promiscuity when he was courting her or that she was already a woman of ill fame when he married her. It is clearly implied in Hosea 1:3—4 that the prophet himself was the father of their firstborn child, Jezreel. We cannot be sure about the paternity of the next two children, Lo-ruhamah and Lo-ammi, though there is no clear indication that Hosea had not also begotten them as well. All that we can be sure of is that after their birth Hosea was given a message from God (2:2-13) in which the names are related to the religious harlotry of the northern kingdom of Israel. Since Hosea's marriage relationship is intended to serve as a type of Yahweh's relationship to Israel, it could legitimately be inferred that Gomer had become pregnant by some paramour rather than by her lawful husband. Chapter 3 strongly suggests that Gomer had deserted Hosea's home and had run off with some lover, ultimately ending up as a slave (perhaps as a prostitute in a house of ill fame) who had to be purchased from the person to whom she had sold herself.

To sum up, then, Hosea's unhappy marriage was intended by God to serve as a heartrending illustration of the apostasy of the northern kingdom, whose citizens had turned from the worship of Yahweh to the worship of the various Baals of the degenerate religions of Canaan and Phoenicia. God, of course, foreknew that Israel would prove false to Him in later centuries, even when He first took her as His covenant wife in the solemn marriage that took place in the days of Moses at Mount Sinai. Yet in His marvelous grace He bore with her infidelities, welcomed her back in her times of repentance and revival, and kept faithful to her even though she repeatedly betrayed His love. Even so was it to be with Hosea. Gomer would be unblemished in the beginning of their marriage, but would stray from him later on.

In retrospect, therefore, Hosea interpreted God's encouragement to him to enter into this unhappy match as a directive at the very start: "Go, take to yourself a wife of harlotry" (1:2, NASB), even though the Lord may not have used such shocking terms in His original response to Hosea's prayer concerning this attractive girl with whom he had fallen in love. God knew very well what was in her heart; yet He said nothing to warn or dissuade Hosea before he married her. This amounted to the language of 1:2 in the light of God's foreknowledge and His overriding purpose in allowing this unhappy marriage to take place. The tragedy of Hosea was to serve as a parable of the tragedy of God's marriage to Israel. No more eloquent illustration of this could be found than that of the infidelity of Gomer to her godly husband.


Is there a contradiction between Hosea 8:13 ("Ephraim will return to Egypt") and Hosea 11:5 ("They will not return to Egypt")?

Hosea 11:5 states in full: "They [i.e., Israel or Ephraim; cf. 11:1-2] will not return to the land of Egypt; but Assyria—he will be their king, because they refused to return to Me" (NASB). This passage reaffirms that the tribes of Israel generally, and the Northern Kingdom headed up by the tribe of Ephraim in particular, will not be driven back to Egypt as a nation of enslaved exiles. This reiterates the promise of Deuteronomy 17:16: "Moreover, he [the future king of Israel] shall not multiply horses for himself, nor shall he cause the people to return to Egypt to multiply horses, since Yahweh has said to you, 'You shall never again return that way.'" Deuteronomy 17:16 suggests, however, that developing a large force of chariotry and relying on this type of armament rather than on the Lord's deliverance would lead to an Egyptian attitude of materialism and pride. In that sense such a king, as Solomon turned out to be (cf. 1 Kings 4:26), would in effect be turning the people back to Egypt on that spiritual level of materialistic arrogance.

It is surely in this figurative sense that Hosea intends 8:11-13: "Since Ephraim has multiplied altars for sin.... As for My sacrificial gifts, they sacrifice the flesh and eat it, but Yahweh has taken no delight in them. Now He will remember their iniquity, and punish them for their sins; they will return to Egypt." While it is true that taken by itself this last clause might amount to a threat of actual deportation to Egypt, it seems more harmonious with the context to understand this as figurative and translate the verb yasubu as "they are returning" —which is legitimate for the Hebrew imperfect tense (i.e., an imperfect indicates noncomplete action, and this may have either a future reference or a present reference—as here—depending on the context). In other words, they are becoming spiritually Egyptian-pagan in their attitude toward God as they engage in sacrifice. Rather than coming to Him with full repentance for sin, with full trust in God's grace, and with a sincere purpose to do His will, they come to God's altar to buy Him off or earn His favor—as any heathen would do to his god. (Another striking example of using the name of a country or city as a symbol of wickedness, rather than an actual geographical location, is found in Isa. 1:9-10: "Hear the word of the Lord, you rulers of Sodom"—long after the historical Sodom had ceased to exist)



Does not Joel's mention of the "Greeks" (3:6) indicate the late fourth century as the earliest possible date for the composition of the book?

Joel 3:6 reads: "You [Phoenicians and Philistines] sold the sons of Judah and Jerusalem to the Greeks in order to remove them far from their territory" (NASB). The very wording of this verse precludes dating the composition of Joel at any time subsequent to the conquest of Asia by Alexander the Great. The Greeks are referred to here as a people living "far from the territory" of Judah, and probably also far from the territory of the Phoenician and Philistine slave-raiders themselves, who swooped down on defenseless Judean towns in order to sell the captives on slave markets very far from Canaanite territory. But after Alexander's conquest the Greeks were very close at hand. In fact, they were in full control of the government of Phoenicia, Israel, and Philistia, and began to carry on all the administration in the Greek language. Therefore Joel must have been composed while the Greeks were still remote from the Near East.

The Greeks already came to public notice, of course, after the collapse of Xerxes' attempted conquest of Greece in 480-479 B.C. But Greek coins are found in Palestinian hoards from as early as the late sixth-century issues of Peisistratus. Greek mercenaries or adventurers served in the court and army of the Babylonians as early as the Lesbian poet Alcaeus, who refers to his brother Antimenidas as engaged in such service. Alcaeus's date was the seventh century B.C. Neo-Babylonian ration tablets published by F. F. Weidner mention Ionian carpenters and shipbuilders as recipients of these rations. (Edwin Yamauchi's Greece and Babylon [Grand Rapids: Baker, 1967], p. 33, discusses the Cretan Linear B tablets dating from 1500 B.C., and gives full documentation for all these references, and also includes references to Egypt, Beirut, Tyre, and Phoenica, in general.) In the light of such data as these, it is nothing short of naive to suppose that a late ninth-century Joel could not have known anything about the Greeks, or to imagine that no slave-traders ever went to Greek ports with captives from Near Eastern slave raids.


Does the prophecy in Amos 8:11-12 refer only to Israel? If so, has it been fulfilled? Are "the words of the Lord" (v. 11) those that we have in the Bible today? 

The ministry of Amos was to the apostate northern kingdom of Israel, near the close of the reign of King Jeroboam II (793-753 B.C). The earlier portion of Amos 8 deals quite specifically with the approaching downfall of Samaria which took place about thirty-three years later, in 722 B.C, when the Assyrians destroyed both the city and the northern kingdom as an independent state.

Amos 8:11-12 reads: "'Behold, days are coming, declares the Lord Yahweh, when I will send a famine on the land, not a famine for bread or a thirst for water, but rather for hearing the words of Yahweh. And people will stagger from sea to sea, and from the north even to the east; they will go to and fro to seek the word of Yahweh, but they will not find it.'" This warning refers to the final decade of Israel's history (i.e., of the northern kingdom), during which the government, the clergy, and the people all sought in vain for some words of comfort and guidance from the Lord Yahweh but found none. (This parallels the final frantic efforts of King Saul just before the battle of Mount Gilboa, to receive some word from the Lord [cf. 1 Sam. 28:6]. Because of his stubborn rebellion and disobedience, Saul had forfeited all right to receive direction from God.)

In this context "the words of the Lord" were not the Hebrew Scriptures that had thus far been revealed; rather, they were the words of special guidance the people were seeking from God in this coming crisis. The prophecy was, of course, fulfilled during the last tragic years when the kingdom of the Ten Tribes, founded by Jeroboam I back in 931 B.C., finally came to a close, never to rise again. The kingdom of Judah, however, continued for another 135 years under the Davidic dynasty and later experienced a rebirth after the Babylonian captivity.

It should be added, however, that the basic warning to northern Israel applies with continuing application to national apostasy wherever a nation or people puts aside the authority of Holy Scripture and lives in rebellion against God. Those who do not heed the teaching of the Bible find that they have no more access to God's mercy or favor and receive no comfort or deliverance from Him when disaster closes in on them. "Whatsoever things were written aforetime were written for our learning," wrote Paul in Romans 15:4.



Which is the correct rendering of Obadiah 13?

The KJV renders this verse thus: "Thou [Edom] shouldest not have entered into the gate of my people in the day of their calamity; yea, thou shouldest not have looked on their affliction in the day of their calamity, nor have laid hands on their substance in the day of their calamity." 

Translated in this past subjunctive way, it seems to indicate that Edom participated in the storming and pillage of Jerusalem when it was finally and permanently destroyed (such is the implication of "shouldest not have entered ... looked ... laid hands on"). But when we turn to the Hebrew original, we find to our surprise that in each case the verb is in a normal negative-imperative construction (i.e., in the jussive mood with the negative 'at). Therefore it should be translated "Do not enter... Do not look upon... Do not stretch forth [hands] against." Similarly in v. 14 the Hebrew says, "Do not stand... Do not deliver over..., etc." So far as I am aware, KJV never translates 'al with the jussive as a past subjunctive anywhere else in the entire Hebrew Scripture; and if it were not for incorrect rabbinical tradition, it would never have done so here.

The NASB has a good and faithful rendering of vv. 13-14: "Do not enter the gate of My people in the day of their disaster. Yes you, do not gloat over their calamity in the day of their disaster. And do not loot their wealth in the day of their disaster. And do not stand at the fork of the road to cut down their fugitives; and do not imprison their survivors in the day of their distress." This straightforward rendition of the Hebrew text points to a situation that might arise in the future, similar to an attack on Jerusalem in the days gone by. It was probably in connection with the time of Jehoram son of Jehoshaphat (848-841 B.C.) that the Edomites joined with the Philistines and the Arabians who came up against Jerusalem and took it by storm (2 Chron. 21:16-17). Earlier in the reign of this ungodly king, Edom had revolted against Judean overlordship (2 Kings 8:20); and Jehoram had launched a punitive invasion in a determined effort to bring them back under his control. Since he did not succeed in his purpose, despite the great damage he had inflicted on them, it was only to be expected that anti-Jewish feeling would have run high in Edom.

While the record in 2 Chronicles 21 does not include the name of Edom as a prime mover in the invasion against Jerusalem, it is quite conceivable that after the Philistines and South Arabians had captured Jerusalem, the Edomites joined with them for the dividing up of the spoil. It was this unduly cruel and vengeful attitude that called for God's stern  rebuke,  conveyed  through Obadiah. The warning against ever doing that again in the future (a warning that of course implied that Jerusalem was still standing and capable of being thus victimized again by a combination of invaders) was no mere idle threat. As a matter of fact, in their later career the Edomites apparently did join with the Ammonites and Moabites in attacking Jerusalem as allies of Nebuchadnezzar in 588-587 (even though that episode is not the one referred to in Obadiah), and thus incurred the judicial wrath of the Lord. 

As a result He brought up the Nabatean Arabs against them in the sixth and fifth centuries, and the Edomites were completely driven out of the ancestral holdings in the region of Mount Seir. As the Nabateans established their kingdom in the former Edomite territory, the Edomites themselves found refuge in the depopulated areas of southern Judea and converted them into "Idumea."



Are there any good grounds for classifying Jonah and portions of Chronicles as midrashic in nature?

A midrash is a special study and vividly imaginative expansion of some portion of Scripture. The term is derived from daras, which means "search, investigate," particularly with a view to adding vividness and color to the narrative contained in the scriptural account itself. For example, the Genesis Apocryphon (composed in Aramaic ca. 200 B.C.) expands on Genesis 12:11-19, the account of Abraham and Sarah during their visit to Egypt, and supplies lengthy conversations and colorful detail concerning the striking physical attractiveness and charm of Sarah herself, the deadly danger to which Abraham was exposed because of her beauty, and the utter necessity of resorting to falsehood in order to save Abraham from assassination on the part of the agents of Pharaoh. The technique resembles that employed by a Sunday school teacher who wishes to make a Bible story come to life before a children's group. There is often a tendency to justify the motives and magnify the wisdom or prowess of the biblical hero whose exploits are described.

So far as Jonah is concerned, it should be pointed out that apart from the four chapters that compose the book so named, there is only one certain reference to the prophet Jonah in the rest of the Hebrew Bible, namely 2 Kings 14:25: "He [Jeroboam II] restored the border of Israel from the entrance of Hamath as far as the Sea of Arabah, according to the word of the Lord, the God of Israel, which He spoke through His servant Jonah the son of Amittai, the prophet, who was of Gathhepher" (NASB). 

There is virtually no connection between this verse and the subject matter of Jonah itself, except that it suggests a strong patriotic zeal on the part of the man of Gathhepher. 

Insofar as a midrash furnishes an imaginative expansion and vivid elaboration of a passage in Scripture, Jonah cannot possibly be classified as midrashic; for it has nothing whatever to say about the wars of Jeroboam II. Only in the sense of vivid and exciting narration can the book be so classified—though in point of fact its style is far more pithy and succinct than is any genuine midrash. Yet if such thrilling adventure is to be regarded as midrash, this would apply equally well to Abraham's rescue of Lot from the Mesopotamian invaders as described in Genesis 14, or to the encounter between Christ and Satan in Matthew 4. Since elaborate visions are also part of the repertoire of midrash, the Book of Revelation in the New Testament might also have this label attached to it; although it is more usual to classify it as apocalyptic.

If Jonah fails to qualify as midrash, what about those dramatic passages in First and Second Chronicles that are characterized by lengthy speeches (such as David's to Solomon in 1 Chron. 28, or Asa's prayer before the battle with Zerah in 2 Chron. 14:11)? Do these indicate a late storyteller's dramatic embellishments, as over against the more succinct and concise narrative in Kings? The basis for this judgment is meager; however, when a harmony such as Crockett's Harmony of Samuel, Kings, and Chronicles is consulted, it appears that long and dramatic episodes occur in Kings that do not appear at all in Chronicles. For example, the account of the ministry and tragic death of the prophet of Judah who came to Bethel in order to denounce Jeroboam I (1 Kings 13) is there related in as fully circumstantial and dramatic a manner as any episode recorded in Chronicles but missing in Kings.

The occasional differences in the choice of material that set Kings and Chronicles in contrast stem from the differing purpose that animated the author of each of these works. The chief concern of the historian who wrote Kings was the response of each ruler of the divided kingdom to the covenant requirements imposed on Israel back in the days of Moses. But the main purpose of the Chronicler was to emphasize the religious institutions that were meant to safeguard Israel's relationship to the Lord (hence the attention devoted to cultic ordinances and celebrations, to the regulations relating to the duties of priest and Levite). Likewise he tended to dwell on the great moments of testing and triumph that featured the career of each of the great leaders of the southern kingdom. These elements have nothing in common with the midrashic literature as we know it, and the allegation of late embellishment on the part of professional storytellers cannot be sustained against Chronicles in the light of all the objective data when fairly considered. (For further information as to midrash as a genre, the reader is directed to the article on "Midrash" in Encyclopaedia Brittanica, 14th ed., 15:415-16.)

Must Jonah be taken as literal history?

The Book of Jonah has often been challenged as to its credibility and historical value because of the amazing adventures it narrates concerning the prophet from Gathhepher. How could a man be saved from drowning by the friendly offices of a whale (or "large fish"), who kept him safely in his stomach for three days and then ejected him safely onto the shore? And how could a pagan capital like Nineveh be so moved by an unknown foreigner addressing them in a strange language, threatening them with destruction from a God they knew nothing about, that they all went into mourning, fasting, and prayer so that they might be spared the threatened doom? Should we not therefore take Jonah as a historical short story with an allegorical purpose, intended to deflect the fifth-century Jews in Palestine from their nationalistic narrow-mindedness and to stir them up to evangelize the pagan nations about them?

There are several serious weaknesses to this fashionable modern theory, the most significant of which is that, according to Matthew 12:40, Jesus the Son of God believed that Jonah was completely historical. He showed this by stating, "For as Jonah was three days and three nights in the belly of a huge fish, so the Son of Man will be three days and three nights in the heart of the earth" (NIV). This puts the issue on a very clear footing. Jesus here affirms that Jonah's experience in the belly of the whale was a type of the death, burial, and resurrection that awaited Him between Good Friday and Easter morning. [FALSE  THEOLOGY  FROM  THE  CATHOLIC  AND  PROTESTANT  CHURCHES - SEE  THE  STUDIES  “THREE  DAYS  AND  THREE  NIGHT - MAT.12: 40”  UNDER  “MISCELLANEOUS” - Keith Hunt]. The coming experience of Christ, which certainly was historical, would serve as an antitype to the experience of the prophet Jonah. If the antitype was historical, then the type must also have been historical. No fictional past episode can serve as a prophetic type of a future literal fulfillment. Only fiction can correspond to fiction; only fact can correspond to fact. All other types of Christ in the Old Testament were historical (Isaac's near sacrifice on Mount Moriah, the priest-king Melchizedek, Moses, David, Solomon as types of Christ), as were the Exodus events referred to in 1 Corinthians 10 in a series of types and examples for believers in Paul's day.

The amazing response of Nineveh to the preaching of Jonah, unlikely though it may seem, was confirmed historically by Jesus when He said, "The men of Nineveh will stand up at the judgment with this generation and condemn it; for they repented at the preaching of Jonah, and now one greater than Jonah is here" (v.41). If in point of fact the Ninevites never did repent (as rationalist higher critics would have us believe), then any eschatological judgment on Jesus' unbelieving contemporaries would be quite unfair. Jesus claimed that the men of Nineveh really did repent and set an example for the Israelites of His time to follow. But if the Ninevites did not repent and Jonah was only a folk tale, their example could not shame Jesus' contemporaries because of their unbelief. Jesus, however, was sure that everything actually did happen as the Book of Jonah relates. Therefore His true followers must believe it, too.


What solid evidence is there that Zechariah 9-14 was written by the same author who composed Zechariah 1-8?

This is an extensive subject and requires a long, involved, and technical discussion in order to be dealt with properly. This writer has set forth the case for the unity and authenticity of Zechariah in his Survey of Old Testament Introduction (pp. 425-30). All the usual arguments in favor of a third-century or early second-century date for Zechariah 9-14 have been described and refuted in those six pages. The period of Zechariah's service extended from 520, when he assisted Haggai in the building campaign for the second temple in Jerusalem, to some period subsequent to 480 B.C., after the defeat of Xerxes' army in their attempt to conquer and subdue the Greeks (cf. 9:13). It is quite possible that a few decades intervened between the composition of chapters 1-8 and chapters 9-14, for there is a difference in focus and style that point to a later situation in the career of the second commonwealth of Judah than that of the earlier chapters, which are more closely related to the rebuilding of the temple (completed in 516 B.C.) and the ideological issues involved in that whole enterprise. But there is no good literary evidence for denying the composition of the two parts by the and same author.

Special Note on Difficulties in Zechariah 

It would be helpful to many readers if some attention could be devoted to the symbolism of the visions in chapters 1-6 and some of the predictive passages in chapters 7-14. These passages require very careful study and a painstaking comparison of all of the historical sources and ancient documents bearing on this period if one is to come to a clear understanding of this fascinating prophet. In this encyclopedia, however, I could do no more than suggest the correspondences and fulfillments that I have worked out in my personal study and classroom teaching of Zechariah over a period of three decades. But to present the conclusions without all of the supporting evidences on which they are based would be less than helpful to the reader. And because the only satisfactory procedure— the presentation of a brief commentary on the particularly troublesome portions that occur throughout these fourteen chapters—would far exceed the purview of this encyclopedia and would necessitate a similar treatment of the book of Revelation, I have decided to forgo delving into the involved symbolism of Zechariah. Instead, I refer the interested reader to some of the best recent treatments that are now on the market, including David Baron, Vision and Prophecies of Zechariah (London, 1918); George L. Robinson, The Twelve   Minor   Prophets   (New York: Doran, 1926); Charles L. Feinberg, God Remembers: Studies in Zechariah (Wheaton: Van Kampen, 1950). The forthcoming volume 7 in Zondervan's Expositor's Bible Commentary will include Kenneth L. Barker's commentary on Zechariah. In view of the proven ability of this scholar, this will be an outstanding piece of work.



What is the best translation of Malachi 2:15? Why do our various English versions come up with such different renderings?

Malachi uses an especially conversational style in discussing the various grievances that God charges against His spiritually backward people in Jerusalem. In ordinary conversation we are apt to omit words that can be implied from the context. Because Hebrew does not have case endings like Greek, it is sometimes hard to tell the relationship of nouns to the verb in the clause in which they stand. So it is with this difficult verse. The KJV reads: "And did not he make one? Yet had he the residue of the spirit. And wherefore one? That he might seek a godly seed. Therefore take heed to your spirit, and let none deal treacherously against the wife of his youth." (The ASV differs from this only in substituting "although" for "Yet" and in capitalizing "Spirit," so as to indicate the Spirit of God.)

There are several problems with this rendition, the first of which is that it construes the first clause as a question, even though a negative question in biblical Hebrew usually is introduced by the interrogative particle ha-; halo, occurs very frequently in negative questions. The second problem is that this wording does not yield a very clear sense in line with the stream of the thought preceding. Thirdly, the reference to "one" is rather mystifying; who is this "one" who is spoken of in the first two sentences of this verse? The best way to determine the answer to these questions is to study the preceding context with some care and thus arrive at the contribution that this particular verse makes to the completion of the thought.

Verse 10 presents God's indictment against those men of Jerusalem who have divorced their first wives, who were Jewish believers, in order to marry younger women of pagan background and conviction. This involvement in mixed marriages amounts to a grave violation of God's law as revealed through Moses (cf. Exod. 34:16; Deut. 7:3-4) and leads to surrendering to idol worship. This danger is spelled out very clearly in v.11: "Judah has profaned the holiness of the Lord ... and married the daughter of a strange god." Verses 12-13 reveal this treachery as the reason for God's refusal to answer the prayers of Jewish worshipers who come to His altar for His blessing. Malachi says that the Lord does not accept their offerings because of the "treachery" that they have shown toward their older, legitimate wives. To each offender He declares: "Yet is she thy companion, and the wife of thy covenant"—a covenant made with her before God at the time of their marriage  (v.14). From  this word order:

"And/ But/ Yet/ not one has done/ made [ufld' 'ehdd 'dsdh] and/ but/ while/ a remnant of the Spirit/ spirit to him/ Him [use'dr ruah Id]; and what/ why/ the one seeking for a posterity God/ of God? [umdh hd'ehdd me baqqes zera"eldhim]. Therefore take heed to your spirit, and against the wife of thy youth let no one deal treacherously [ube'eset ne'ureyka 'al-yibgdd]."

The KJV takes Yahweh as the subject of "made" (‘asah) and assumes that it is the original wedding pair that is intended (following the clue of Gen. 2:24: "And they two shall be one flesh [basar 'eha-d]”). This is certainly a possible rendering, though it does require making the clause interrogative ("Did He not make one?"), even though the interrogative ha- is almost mandatory before the negative lo’, according to normal biblical usage. A much more straightforward interpretation would be "But no one has done [so]" (i.e., has dealt treacherously with the wife of his youth, his first, Yahweh-worshiping wife, as implied from the previous verse), RSV makes 'ehad the subject but understands it to refer to the one true God; but then it resorts to free paraphrase in the remainder of the sentence and blurs out the second ha’ehad altogether, saying, "and sustained for us the spirit of life."

If, then, the first clause refers to the individual Jewish believer who has kept faith with his first wife, the second clause probably refers to him as well: "But no one has done so who [taking the waw connective u before far as a circumstantial or virtual-relative clause] has a residue of the Spirit ['has' is regularly expressed by lo ('to him') in Hebrew]." This means that ruah refers not to the human spirit of the individual believer but to the Spirit of God who wrought faith within the heart of all true believers who stood in covenant relationship with God right from the beginning of mankind. The following clause then asks, "And what does the one—the covenant-keeping husband just referred to—seek for? An offspring of God!" That is, the Godfearing father, faithful to his covenant with his Jewish wife and with the God whom they both love and serve, seeks to bring his children up as true believers, who will likewise be faithful to the covenant of grace. For these reasons, therefore, the men of Jerusalem are strongly urged to take heed to themselves and to the Holy Spirit who has made them children of God under the covenant and resist any temptation to deal treacherously with their first wife by marrying some other woman—who, while prettier and younger, does not love the Lord, and who will very likely produce children who will themselves reject the one true God in favor of the false gods of their mother.

The best rendition of this verse, then, would seem to be as follows: "But no one has done so who has a residue of the Spirit. And what does that one seek for? A godly offspring! Therefore take heed to your spirit [as a true believer under the covenant] and let none of you deal faithlessly with the wife of his youth [i.e., the wife he married when he was young]." This interpretation fits so smoothly into the flow of the thought in this paragraph that is seems almost certain to be the intention of the prophet himself. If so, the NASB is to be preferred over the NIV in the treatment of this verse, (NASB: "But not one has done so who has a remnant of the Spirit. And what did that one do while he was seeking a godly offspring?" NIV: "Has not the Lord made them one? In flesh and spirit they are his. And why one? Because he was seeking godly offspring.")